The high cost of prescription drugs in Ireland -- study investigates cost savings on spending

Irish patients pay up to six times more than their British counterparts for commonly prescribed medicines

A study has found that Irish patients pay up to six times more than their British counterparts for commonly prescribed medicines.

The price comparison study looked at medication use by older adults and opportunities for cost savings on drug spending. It found that by prescribing generic drugs and by using a system of reference pricing (setting one price for groups of similar medicines) that $200 million could be saved annually.

Prof Kathleen Bennett, one of the report's authors, told the Irish Examiner that Irish prices were substantially higher than in Great Britain.

“For example, two of the 10 most commonly prescribed medicines were six times more expensive in Ireland. These included omeprazole and lansoprezol, two drugs used to treat conditions caused by excess stomach acid," she said.

While prices in Ireland have gone down since the study was conducted in 2010, the cost of these medicines is still almost four times than the British price.

These figures come from a report prepared using data from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, which involves 8,175 people aged 50 and over living in Ireland.

The report “Polypharmacy in adults over 50 in Ireland: Opportunities for cost saving and improved healthcare” found that polypharmacy, the regular use of five or more medicines, is common in older people in Ireland and becomes more common with advancing years.

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