The HSE has a responsibility to source the most effective medicine on behalf of patients at an affordable price to the taxpayer. As is the case for all new medicines, the clinical benefits of pembrolizumab and nivolizumab are being carefully considered under a process of health technology assessment, in order to determine value for money and patient benefits.
Affordability of drugs generally, and of new medicines, is an issue globally and there are a range of other new medicines also becoming available to the market in 2016. The HSE must operate within its allocated budget for 2016 and within this prioritise the allocation of resources across the entire health system. In the 2016 HSE Service Plan an additional €7 million was allocated for Cancer Drugs to support the National Cancer Control Programme's Systemic Therapy Programme. In this context pembrolizumab, for example, has an estimated net 5 year cost implication to the state of €64m at the price being sought by the pharmaceutical company.
The HSE engages robustly with manufacturers to achieve the best price and the best value for Irish patients and the taxpayer. It is widely recognised that Ireland is already paying higher prices for medicines than many of our European neighbour states. The single biggest barrier to new drugs approvals in Ireland is the high prices that manufacturers are seeking to charge. Lower prices would enable the HSE to afford more innovative drugs for more patients as they become available and the HSE will continue to engage with manufacturers in the best interests of patients and the taxpayer.
Last updated on: 27 / 05 / 2016