Medicines budget in Ireland shrinks as percentage of healthcare expenditure

Ireland’s medicines budget has been falling in recent years as a percentage of overall healthcare spending, according to figures from a variety of sources, including the Health Service Executive.

An industry report that looked at official Irish figures as well as those from 14 other EU states found that the state spends slightly less of its overall health budget on medicines than the EU average. EU.

Research by health analysts IQVIA for the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, the representative body for the biopharmaceutical industry in Europe, shows that spending on medicines in 15 European countries accounts for around 15% of total healthcare spending .

Last year the state spent €2.54bn on medicines, pharmacy and wholesale costs – 13.4% of the €19bn health budget – figures show estimates from the Public Expenditure Department.

In 2016, drugs accounted for 14.3% of the health budget, according to the same sources.

Societal costs

A spokesperson for the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) said the figures show that, “based on current government healthcare spending estimates for 2021, we are now spending almost one percentage point less in drugs than five years ago as a proportion of the overall health budget”.

“For many chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the cost of drugs is only a very small part of the overall cost of illness, especially when considering broader societal costs.

“The drugs reduce unnecessary emergency room visits, hospitalizations and complications.”

Yet, the spokesperson said, this contribution has not been recognized by greater investment within the health budget.

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