Safeguarding Medicines Access
It has been a busy year for the team at Medicines for Ireland as the representative body has worked to safeguard access to medicines, advancing medicines repurposing, ensured uninterrupted supply of medicine between Ireland and the UK and carried out research into the generics market. We spoke to David Delaney, Head of Policy and Market Access for Europe with Viatris and Chair of the EU Affairs Committee, Medicines for Ireland about the key challenges with regards to medicines access and equality. David leads advocacy at the European Parliament and Trade Committees for MFI and as a Board member of Medicines for Europe.
David helps manage the MFI relationship with Ireland’s Department of Health, other Government Departments, regulators and media on key industry related matters. Towards the end of last year, David was an invited live speaker at Ireland’s National Parliament Seanad (Senate) Special Committee on the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU. The industry group has warned that imminent regulatory requirements threaten medicine supplies from Britain to Northern Ireland. The Brexit agreement for Northern Ireland, designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, leaves Northern Ireland within the EU’s regulatory system for pharmaceuticals. The Northern Ireland Protocol states that the “marketing authorisation holder” – the company or other legal entity authorised to market a product – for any medicines sold in Northern Ireland must be in the EU, the European Economic Area or Northern Ireland but not in Britain.
It is this requirement which is forcing medicines manufacturers to invest in reorganising regulatory filings, packaging and licences on bespoke boxes of medicines for Northern Ireland to service a market in European teams that would be like making special arrangements in the Republic for medicines being sold in Mayo. David commented, “Before the power cut issues in Dublin today impacting Parliament, we planned to focus on urgently needed solutions to ensure stable patient access to medicines in Northern Ireland and beyond. “Many thanks to the Committee Cathaoirleach (Chairperson) Senator Lisa Chambers for the invitation to speak and at the new date in October, to express the views and suggested solutions of Medicines for Ireland and Medicines for Europe who represent companies who supply the majority of medicines daily across the island of Ireland, and throughout the EU.
“There are challenges upcoming to patients’ access to medicines in Northern Ireland and beyond. Time is running out to fix this. Thankfully, the European Parliament will shortly consider legislative changes to help the situation. But, we haven’t seen the proposals yet. The UK and Irish Governments and their regulators have worked tirelessly on related solutions. Let’s redouble all our efforts. “With many political representatives engaging with the Committee from Northern Ireland, EU and the U.S. such as Congressman Richard Neal and EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness, the expert analysis of solutions and issues for the island of Ireland is a great service and legacy from this Committee.
We look forward to playing our role too.” In May of this year, David met with the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Noah Thorold. David met with Noah in London representing Medicines for Europe – whose member companies make and research & develop the majority of medicines used daily in Northern Ireland and across Europe. “Stakeholders continue work to ensure continued stable patient access to medicines in Northern Ireland, in the context of the Northern Ireland Protocol and beyond,” he said.
The following month, in June, MFI reported that generic medicines now account for 57% of the volume of the total prescription market in Ireland. According to findings commissioned by MFI and compiled by IQVIA, Over the past ten years the volume of generic medicines across Ireland has risen by 24%, this is due to effective Government policies and legislative changes regarding procurement and supply, as well as consistent activity for MFI members to promote the advantages associated with increased usage of generic medicines.
Chairperson for Medicines for Ireland, Padraic O’Brien said “Every time a generic medicine is dispensed, it represents a cost saving to the State and an opportunity for additional funding to be channelled to other areas of the healthcare system. Now more than ever a focus on quality and value is crucial for the State and the patients who rely on timely access to affordable medicines.”
“As an organisation MFI are proud that our membership will supply over 60 million packs of prescription medicines to Irish patients this year. This equates to an average of 2 packs of medicines every second.”
They also published a new report new report focused on the benefits of using VAMs in an EU context. ‘Value Added Medicines: Advancing Medicine Repurposing in the EU’ builds on the 2021 published report ‘Discussion Document on the Contribution of Value Added Medicines (VAMs) in Ireland’. It has been produced in conjunction with sister organisation, Medicines for Europe.
Value Added Medicines (VAMs) are medicines based on known molecules that address healthcare needs and deliver relevant improvements for patients and healthcare professionals. VAMs are key drivers for access to medicines and are increasing patient quality of life for chronic diseases, while offering significant benefits to the healthcare community.
VAMs offer a wide range of benefits from ensuring better adherence and compliance, to keeping healthcare costs down by reducing the need for patients to be moved to expensive next line therapies. The importance of using VAMs to address unmet medical needs in a timely and cost-effective manner has been highlighted during the Covid 19 pandemic.
Read more clinical features here
Read more of our latest news here