Irish cancer patients are waiting four months longer to access new medicines than the rest of Europe

Cancer patients in Ireland wait, on average, four months longer to access new medicines than people with the disease in other European countries, new research has found.

reland ranks 27th out of 35 countries in terms of rapid access to new medicines, according to the ranking of the biopharmaceutical industry’s annual patient survey.

It took 661 days for cancer drugs to get the green light from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
to patients who are reimbursed by the HSE here. This compares to an EU average of 545 days.

In Germany the gap is 100 days and in Denmark 140 days.

Among Western European countries, only Portugal took longer than Ireland to provide new medicines.

For orphan medicines used to treat rare diseases, it takes 870 days from market approval by the EMA to being available to patients here. The EU average is 636 days.

“This makes Ireland the slowest country in Western Europe when it comes to making orphan medicines available to patients. Other countries in Central and Eastern Europe, such as Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Slovakia, are faster than Ireland, the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) said.

IPHA Chief Executive Oliver O’Connor said: “In the two most recent budgets, the Government has allocated €80 million for innovative new medicines.

“Although conducted prior to this investment, the survey still shows Ireland’s poor environment for rapid access to innovative new medicines. Through sustained investment and the new supply agreement, Ireland should aim to be among the fastest-growing countries in Europe to introduce innovative new medicines.”

“The two most recent budgets will help, but more can be done to align standards of care and treatment with European norms. Patients… rightly expect that. This is especially true for patients with rare diseases for whom new medicines are approved.”

Asked for comment, an HSE spokeswoman said the industry reached an agreement with the state on the four-year framework agreement on the supply and pricing of medicines last December.

“This means that drugs brought to market by the research-based biopharmaceutical industry after years of research and development will be available to patients more quickly through an improved funding framework.”

The HSE approved 29 new medicines and 21 new uses of existing medicines in 2021. It also expanded reimbursement for two more drugs.

Among the newly approved drugs was acalabrutinib, an oral monotherapy drug for previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Another drug is alirocumab, which is injected to treat high cholesterol.

They also approved atezolizumab, a hospital-administered intravenous drug for the first-line treatment of adult patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.

She said the HSE has a “robust evaluation and trade negotiation process for all new medicines. These processes challenge inappropriate cost calculations by applicant companies and deliver better value for money.”

“The HSE has thoroughly evaluated each of the new medicines and each new use of an existing medicine, engaged in commercial negotiations and carefully considered all factors required by law.

“Revised terms and conditions have been agreed which represent significant improvements over the originally proposed prices.

“More than €398 million in additional costs over the next five years will be avoided on these new drugs following price reductions resulting from assessments by the National Center for Pharmacoeconomics, trade negotiations and the advisory processes followed by the HSE Drugs Group and the HSE Executive Management Team.” Irish cancer patients are waiting four months longer to access new medicines than the rest of Europe

Fry Electronics Team

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