Minister White announces price reduction for cholesterol drug

Reference pricing to see patients and taxpayers benefit from reduced costs

The Minister Minister for Primary Care, Alex White TD, today (Friday, 1st November) announced immediate reductions in prices for atorvastatin products, which are used to control cholesterol.  The price reductions are the result of the introduction of reference pricing under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013.

The introduction of this first reference price, for a medicine, which is used to control cholesterol, represents a major step in ensuring lower prices are paid for these medicines.  The new reference prices for atorvastatin products means the HSE now pay 70% less for these products compared to May 2013.  Patients will save on the cost of their medication and taxpayers will benefit from the reduced prices paid by the HSE.

Minister White said “The commencement of reference prices will ensure that
generic medicine prices in Ireland will fall towards European norms.  It will safeguard value for money for the taxpayer and will mean that prices are set at levels which facilitate – not jeopardise – supply of these products in Ireland.  Reference prices for this group of products will soon be followed by reference pricing for additional groups of medicines designated as  interchangeable by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB).”

Reference prices are being introduced on a phased basis.  The reference price is the price the HSE will reimburse to pharmacies for groups of interchangeable medicines.  The IMB puts interchangeable medicines together into groups and the HSE may then set reference prices for these groups. Atorvastatin products were addressed first because they are the highest cost group of products reimbursed by the HSE.  The HSE is now setting a reference price for esomeprazole products – used for the treatment of stomach conditions – and it is planned that prices for this group of products will be put in place by the beginning of December.

This system of generic substitution and reference pricing is provided for under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013.  It enables the HSE to set a reference price for groups of interchangeable medicines published by the IMB.

An information and education campaign, aimed at both health professionals and the public, is continuing. Patient information leaflets are being delivered to all community pharmacies and GP surgeries and further information is available at www.hse.ie/generics.