IPHA: €50m funding for new medicines in Budget 2021 a ‘game changer’

14 Oct 2020

Image: © Sherry Young/Stock.adobe.com

The IPHA has described the €50m allocated to new medicines in Budget 2021 as a ‘game changer’ for Irish patients.

More than 50 new medicines could be available to Irish patients following the Budget 2021 announcement yesterday (13 October). The Government confirmed that €50m will be allocated to new medicines to treat conditions including chronic leukaemia, Parkinson’s and breast cancer.

It will mean doctors will have access to new medicines, some of which have already been approved by the HSE and others that are in the pipeline for 2021.

Responding to the news, the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) said it was a “game changer” for patients in Ireland and should facilitate “close collaboration” between the State and the industry on a new multi-year medication supply agreement.

“It means patients will have a greater range of breakthrough treatment options available to them for serious medical conditions and faster,” said IPHA president Paul Reid.

“The move is a clear statement that the current Government values medicines innovation – its potential transformational impact on improved healthcare outcomes and the role it plays in driving economic growth and jobs across the regions.”

Solving the ‘innovation paradox’

The association claimed that since last July, there has effectively been a funding embargo on new medicines, which has now been lifted following news of the funding boost that will cover a significant proportion of the cost of new treatments next year.

IPHA’s chief executive, Oliver O’Connor, added that the move is a major step forward to right a so-called ‘innovation paradox’, where Ireland excels in making new medicines but is poor at making them available to patients.

“We have been among the last in western Europe to make new medicines available to patients,” O’Connor said.

“This Budget is the catalyst to change that. By announcing significant funding … the Government has signalled that it values the role of medicines innovation in delivering on the goals of Sláintecare.”

Elsewhere, the Department for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science confirmed that €30m of the Budget will be allocated to supporting researchers, building capacity, supporting Covid-19 research and strengthening north-south research links.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic