The organisation that represents the suppliers of the majority of medicines in Ireland has warned of an increasing risk of shortages due to the impact of inflation.
Medicines for Ireland (MFI) said that there are currently 186 medicines listed as being in short supply by the Health Products Regulatory Authority.
MFI said that without an intervention this situation has the potential to worsen.
It claimed the shortages are being caused by rising energy and transport costs which are exacerbating global supply chain issues which continue to persist.
“According to our sister association Medicines for Europe, several countries around the EU are experiences shortages, for example Romania have seen 2000 medicines disappear from the market and in Belgium one in five medicines available last year, are now no longer available,” said Padraic O’Brien, MFI chairperson.
“As a small market Ireland is more likely to be badly impacted by inflationary pressure and as costs continue to rise, market conditions will become increasingly unviable for companies supplying generic medicines to Irish hospitals and pharmacies.”
“Additionally, in some cases, our reimbursement prices for certain medicines are too low compared to other EU countries and price adjustments in Ireland are historically downward only. This adds to unsustainable market conditions for suppliers.”
The organisation claims the Government can make changes in the budget which would help.
These include enhancing national pricing and procurement policies in an effort to mitigate the risk of medicine shortages.
It also suggests that the establishment of a National Medicines Reserve be considered.
MFI is also seeking an extension of the 0% VAT rate that currently applies to certain medicines.
According to the body, in a recent survey of its members, 91% said they had experienced higher costs associated with import and/or manufacturing of pharma and medical products for Ireland.
“Our main focus is to help Government ensure market conditions in Ireland remain sustainable in order to retain and secure access to reliable and affordable treatment for Irish patients,” said Mr O’Brien.
“MFI members are willing to work directly with Government to help tackle this serious issue and prevent potential medicines shortages.”