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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 270-280
 Header Item Medicinal Products Expenditure
 Header Item Medicinal Products Expenditure
 Header Item International Bodies Membership
 Header Item Medical Card Applications
 Header Item Female Genital Mutilation
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities
 Header Item Public Procurement Regulations
 Header Item Local Improvements Scheme
 Header Item State Properties
 Header Item International Bodies Membership
 Header Item Air Services Provision

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 809 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 66 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 270-280

Medicinal Products Expenditure

 270. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the amount the State spends on statins each year; the reason generic statins are 2,600% cheaper in Spain; and his plans to reduce the cost here.  [32795/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Data from the HSE Primary Care Reimbursement Service Statistical Report for 2011 indicates that statins cost approximately €104 million (excluding dispensing fees and mark-up) across the Community Drugs Schemes (GMS, DPS and LTI) in 2011. This represents a 40% reduction from the corresponding figure of approximately €146 million in 2008 and reflects the ongoing impact of cost containment measures implemented in recent years.

Preliminary figures indicate a further reduction, of approximately 3%, in expenditure on statins for 2012. Further reductions are anticipated for 2013 due to all statins now being off patent and the impact of additional price reductions associated with agreements reached with the pharmaceutical industry in late 2012.

While the recently published ESRI report Pharmaceutical Prices, Prescribing Practices and Usage of Generics in a Comparative Context, finds that prices for originator in-patent and generic medicines are higher in Ireland compared to other EU Member States, the ongoing programme of reforms introduced by the State to reduce pharmaceutical prices and expenditure will have a significant impact on the cost of medicines in this country. Price reductions of the order of 30% per item reimbursed have been achieved between 2009 and 2013 and the average cost per reimbursed item is now running at 2001/2002 levels.

The HSE's Medicines Management Programme has recently, for the first time, identified ‘preferred drugs’ for prescribers when prescribing Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) or statin medication for patients. The preferred PPI is Lansoprazole and the preferred statin is Simvastatin. The HSE is asking doctors to prescribe these preferred drugs in order to save money, both for patients who pay for their medication and to deliver savings of an estimated €15 million for the taxpayer.

The Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013, which came into operation on the 24th of June, will further promote price competition, a greater use of generics and deliver lower medicine prices for the taxpayer and for patient. Under the Act, the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) is responsible for the assessment for interchangeability of medicines. My Department requested the IMB to prioritise the assessment of medicines which are of the greatest cost and a list of 20 such medicines has been prepared. Atorvastatin products are the first on the list for assessment and it is anticipated that the first List of Interchangeable Medicines containing groups of atorvastatin products will be published in mid-August. At that stage prices of atorvastatin products will fall by 20% as provided for under the current agreement with generic manufacturers. The HSE will then set a reference price for each group of products resulting in further price reductions for atorvastatin products. It is anticipated that the first reference price will be implemented by November 2013.

I am confident that these reforms will result in generic prices in Ireland moving towards European norms over the next year.

Statins are one of the most cost-effective drug therapies available and the value for money associated with these drugs will be even greater due to the ongoing price reductions.

Medicinal Products Expenditure

 271. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly to rank by price the amount the State spends, or subsidises by tax relief on prescribed medication and or prescription refunds, on the top ten prescribed drugs.  [32796/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The following table shows the top ten drugs by total cost in the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme, the Drug Payment Scheme (DPS) and the Long Term Illness (LTI) Scheme (these data are provisional for 2012).

Top Ten Drugs by Total Cost 2012

Scheme OrderName
GMS1Atorvastatin
 2Clinical Nutritional Products
 3Pregabalin
 4Salmeterol and other drugs for obstructive airway diseases
 5Esomeprazole
 6Diagnostic Products
 7Olanzapine
 8Rosuvastatin
 9Lansoprazole
 10Acetylsalicylic Acid-Aspirin (Antithrombotic)
   
DPS1Atorvastatin
 2Pregabalin
 3Salmeterol and other drugs for obstructive airway diseases
 4Esomeprazole
 5Rosuvastatin
 6Formoterol and other drugs for obstructive airway diseases
 7Clinical Nutritional Products
 8Ostomy Requisites
 9Mesalazine
 10Montelukast
   
LTI1Diagnostic Products
 2Insulin Aspart, Fast Acting
 3Needles/Syringes/Lancets
 4Atorvastatin
 5Clinical Nutritional Products
 6Insulin Glargine, Long Acting
 7Liragutide
 8Insulin Detemir, Long Acting
 9Lamotrigine
 10Levetiracetam
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The issue of tax relief on prescribed medication and/or prescription refunds is a matter for my colleague, Mr Michael Noonan, T.D., Minister for Finance.

International Bodies Membership

 272. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will outline each international organisation, international agency or international body that Ireland is a member of that his Department or a State body or agency under the aegis of his Department is responsible for or co-responsible for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32812/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The information requested by the Deputy is currently being collated and will be forwarded to him as soon as it is available.

Medical Card Applications

 273. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if and when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32819/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has recently reissued to Oireachtas members.

Female Genital Mutilation

 274. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the position in regard to female circumcision in this jurisdiction; the extent to which both parents are required to give consent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32820/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I wish to inform the Deputy that the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2011 was signed by the President in April 2011 and commenced on 20th September 2012. The Act explicitly prohibits Female Genital Mutilation along with related offences, which include removing a girl from the State for the purpose of FGM. A defence of custom or ritual in proceedings is not permitted; neither is a defence that the girl/woman or her parents/guardian consented to FGM. Punishment is up to 14 years imprisonment and/or a fine; for a summary conviction, the penalty is a fine of up to €5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months or both.

Services for People with Disabilities

 275. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his views regarding a matter relating to persons with disabilities (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32859/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch One of the key commitments in the Programme for Government in relation to children and adults with disabilities is to put the National Standards for Residential Services for People with Disabilities on a statutory footing and ensure that the services are inspected by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA). The standards outline what is expected of a provider of services and what a person with a disability, his or her family, and the public can expect to receive from residential care services. They seek to ensure that vulnerable people with disabilities in residential services are safeguarded and protected, and their quality of life is enhanced.

While the proposal suggested by the voluntary group referred to by the Deputy was appreciated, it was also acknowledged by the Group that the 'proposal was offered only as a temporary/interim solution until such time as the longer term goal of a permanent inspectorate to inspect residential settings for people with disabilities is put in place on a statutory basis'. As I have already mentioned, the Government is committed to put the standards on a statutory footing, and ensuring that a regulatory system which will allow for a robust registration and inspection of Residential Centres is commenced.

The National Standards were formally launched on 14th May, 2013 and work is progressing in the Department on the regulations required to bring the standards into law. These are being developed taking into account the lessons learned from similar regulations for nursing homes. It is anticipated that the new registration and inspection regime will commence on the 1st September this year.

It is also important to point out that while the HIQA standards have yet to be put on a statutory footing, it is worth noting that compliance with these standards is already included in the Service Level Arrangements between HSE and service providers in the disability sector.

Public Procurement Regulations

 276. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of projects that were approved funding by his Department conditional on a bond being produced from a builder; the amount of the default by builders where such bonds were in place; the amount recovered through the use of bonds in such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32726/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar This issue does not arise for my Department. While it is the channel of funding for various capital programmes, it does not enter into contractual arrangements with builders in relation to specific projects funded through these programmes. Responsibility for contractual arrangements of this nature is an operational matter for those agencies charged with implementing capital programmes. I have referred the Deputy's question to those agencies for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Local Improvements Scheme

 277. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the amount of money allocated to the LIS scheme in each of the past ten years; if he intends allocating any funds to this scheme this year or next; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32728/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Details of allocations under the Local Improvements Scheme are outlined in the regional and local road allocation booklets available in the Dáil Library.

No separate allocation is being provided this year under the Local Improvements Scheme, instead local authorities may use up to 7% of their Discretionary Grant towards works on non-public roads under this scheme should they wish to do so. I will announce details of funding allocations for 2014 early that year.

State Properties

 278. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the steps he is taking to ensure CIÉ and Iarnród Éireann preserve full ownership of all their land on the disused section of the Limerick to Tralee railway in view of the claims of some local landowners to rights on part of this land; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32733/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar This is an operational matter for CIÉ and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

International Bodies Membership

 279. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will outline each international organisation, international agency or international body that Ireland is a member of that his Department or a State body or agency under the aegis of his Department is responsible for or co-responsible for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32817/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar While my Department is a member of numerous international bodies, it is not responsible for or co-responsible for any such organisations.

Air Services Provision

 280. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if it has been brought to his attention that no direct flight exists between Ireland and Silicon Valley or San Francisco in California; if he believes such a direct air link would provide an employment boost to the Irish economy in terms of foreign direct investment given Silicon Valley is a central hub for worldwide technology companies; the discussions he and his Department officials have held with multi-national employers or airlines on this matter in the past two years; if he believes such a route would be hugely beneficial for Ireland given the pre-cleared for US customs and immigration at Dublin Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [32852/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Ireland-US air services market is fully liberalised and decisions regarding new services are a commercial matter for the airlines. However, improving Ireland's connectivity is a key aspect of national aviation policy and this policy is promoted in contacts with industry.

On 3 July Aer Lingus announced that it will commence direct services from Dublin to San Francisco in early 2014. A direct Air Service to the West Coast of the US is identified as a key point in the Government's Action Plan for Jobs and I welcome the fact that this need is being fulfilled.

The importance of this route is demonstrated by the fact that over 40% of Ireland's total foreign direct investment comes from Silicon Valley alone. This new service provided by Aer Lingus will help to sustain this investment and help attract further investment in the future.


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