Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Primary Care John Brassil has reiterated his call for the State to get more value for money through the use of biosimilar drugs.

Deputy Brassil, a community pharmacist by profession, says it’s critical that we take advantage of this growing area of medicine.

As defined by the European Medicine Agency, a ‘biosimilar’ is a biological medicine that is similar to another biological medicine that has already been authorised for use.

“In 2017, there were 11 biosimilar drugs available in Ireland, yet the uptake is minimal.  It is critical that doctors and physicians are given the option to prescribe biosimilars – this would introduce the necessary competition into the market which would see considerable cost reductions for both patients and the State”, said Deputy Brassil.

“Ireland currently has one of the lowest rates of biosimilar uptake in Europe.  As a result of this, healthcare providers are missing the opportunity to make substantial savings on biological medicines, which can be reinvested in services for patients.

“We need to see a fair and transparent incentive created which would see doctors prescribe the medicine which offers the best value for the patient, without compromising effectiveness.

“The Irish Pharmaceutical Union carried out research last year, which indicated that over €300m was available in savings over a three year period.  Given the fact that as little as €5m is needed to make life saving medication such as Spinraza available to the patients that need it, it is deeply frustrating that the government is dragging its heels on this critical issue.

“The government and the HSE must do all that they can to incorporate the use of biosimilar drugs into the health service as soon as possible”.