Sunday, 29 April 2012 10:23
- Potential savings identified for taxpayer from annual drugs bill
- 88% of patients say they would welcome greater use of generic medicines
Pharmacists have claimed that the slow progress by Government to enable pharmacists to dispense generic medicines is costing the State money and adding to the costs for patients. The claim was made this morning at the IPU Pharmacy National Conference hosted in Galway by the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU).
Currently pharmacists are required to dispense the specific medicine identified by the prescribing GP. It is intended to introduce new legislation later this year, which will allow pharmacists to use their professional judgement to recommend a cheaper, but similar medicine – known as “generic substitution”.
Generic substitution is used in most European countries to save money for both the State and private patients. Pharmacists today criticised the delay in the introduction of this policy here.
Morgan Power, South East regional representative of the IPU, said, “A lot of money has been lost by the delay in the introduction of generic substitution and it is now critical that the practice is introduced as quickly as possible. It is also vital that the HSE and the Department of Health work closely with the Irish Pharmacy Union to ensure that the change is brought about as smoothly as possible to ensure that patient health is not compromised in the transition.
“It is also important that the HSE provide GMS codes for generic products as soon as the brand comes off patent. For example, the patent for lipitor is due to expire next week and we understand that generic companies are having difficulty getting a GMS code for atorvastatin,” Power continued.
Findings of new research published this weekend by the IPU have shown that there is a broad welcome by patients for generic medicines. 88% of people said “Pharmacists should be allowed to offer cheaper, equivalent generic medicines where they are available and suitable to the patient”.