O’Donnell to grill HSE chiefs on drug costs

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

DEPUTY Kieran O’Donnell has branded as “indefensible” that the HSE is paying more than is necessary for drugs at a time when patient services are being cut.

DEPUTY Kieran O’Donnell has branded as “indefensible” that the HSE is paying more than is necessary for drugs at a time when patient services are being cut.

The Limerick City TD, who is vice-chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, has asked that senior officials from the HSE attend a hearing to spell out what the expenditure is on on-patent medicines and what savings can be achieved.

“I can confirm that I have requested that senior HSE managers be called before the Public Accounts Committee as soon as possible. I will be cross-examining them in order to see what they are going to do about reducing the cost of prescription medicines.

“After their last appearance before the committee, the HSE reported to us that if the prices paid for medicine here were reduced to UK levels, €50 million would be saved by the Irish taxpayer,” stated Deputy O’Donnell.

Subsequent press reports have suggested savings of up to twice that amount are possible and Deputy O’Donnell wants the HSE to report back to the committee to get to the heart of the matter.

“We need to ascertain the facts for the taxpayer here. Clearly, it is indefensible for the HSE to be cutting services to patients if it is spending more than necessary on medicines.

“The Public Accounts Committee is the taxpayers’ watchdog. I am extremely keen to ensure that taxpayers are getting value for money. Approximately 70% of the overall HSE spend on drugs goes on on-patent medications. I look forward to seeing the HSE before the committee to discuss how savings can be made for the taxpayer,” Deputy O’Donnell said.