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 Header Item Topical Issue Matters
 Header Item Message from Select Committee
 Header Item  Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Order for Report Stage
 Header Item Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Report Stage

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 800 No. 4

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Topical Issue Matters

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 27A and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Paudie Coffey - the need for funding of rural development and Leader programmes and the future for these development partnerships; (2) Deputy Simon Harris - the need for a review of the rental accommodation scheme; (3) Deputy Pat Deering - the implications of proposed cuts to Carlow regional youth work services; (4) Deputy Billy Kelleher - the need for supports to be given to persons suffering from narcolepsy and other medical complications following vaccination with pandemrix; (5) Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn - the proposed closure of Gaelcholáiste Chineál Eoghain, Buncrana, County Donegal; (6) Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin - changes in the calculation criteria in respect of eligibility for a medical card; (7) Deputy Derek Nolan - the impact of recent Central Bank of Ireland guidelines on the ability of credit unions to lend short-term finance to their members; (8) Deputy Michael McNamara - the regulation of small food businesses - a barrier to growth and employment; (9) Deputy Brian Stanley - the implications of the HSE report on Shaen and Abbeyleix public nursing homes, County Laois; (10) Deputy Thomas P. Broughan - the introduction of parking charges at Howth Harbour, Dublin; (11) Deputy Noel Harrington - the need to extend, in respect of primary schools on offshore islands, the qualifying date for minimum enrolment of eight pupils from 30 September 2012 to 30 April 2013; (12) Deputy Michael Healy-Rae - the need to put a ferry in place to transport livestock to and from Dursey Island, County Cork; (13) Deputy Barry Cowen - the delay in the construction of new accommodation for Scoil Bhríde, Edenderry, and Gaelscoil Eadon Doire, County Offaly; (14) Deputy Tom Hayes - the need to include south Tipperary in the final phase for the provision of high speed broadband; (15) Deputy John O'Mahony - the need to locate a passport office in the west of Ireland; (16) Deputy Willie O'Dea - the need to discuss the OECD report on the Irish pension system commissioned by the Minister for Social Protection; (17) Deputy Mick Wallace - the auditing of school building projects; (18) Deputy Brendan Smith - the US Supreme Court decision to release the Boston College Belfast oral history project archive; (19) Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett - the plan to downgrade accident and emergency services at Loughlinstown hospital, County Dublin; and (20) Deputy Clare Daly - the implications of the public sector recruitment embargo on the closure of Fingal County Council libraries.

The matters raised by Deputies Paudie Coffey, Derek Nolan, Willie O'Dea and Richard Boyd Barrett, have been selected for discussion.

Message from Select Committee

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality has completed its consideration of the Defence Forces (Second World War Amnesty and Immunity) Bill 2012 [Seanad] and has made no amendment thereto.

Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Order for Report Stage

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White I move: "That Report Stage be taken now."

  Question put and agreed to.

Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Report Stage

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Amendments 1 to 3, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy I move amendment No. 1:

   In page 10, between lines 34 and 35, to insert the following:

“ “non-interchangeable medicinal product” means a medicinal product which is not interchangeable with any other medicinal product for prescription purposes in the opinion of the Irish Medicines Board in accordance with the provisions of section 5 of this Act;”.

Most of us would support a reduction in the cost of drugs. The move towards the use of generic drugs is a very good idea and it has been a long time coming.

  My amendment has in mind conditions such as epilepsy where the move towards the use of generic drugs is a false economy. People with epilepsy may require lengthy treatment before their condition is stabilised. I know quite a number of people with epilepsy. It is not a benign condition. I know of a woman with epilepsy who nearly died recently. She is attempting to stabilise her condition. She has two children aged nine and 11 years. There could be repercussions for her if her condition is not stabilised. I recently met a man with epilepsy who lost his job as a result of losing his driving licence. He is now trying to meet his mortgage repayments. Trying to get his condition stabilised was a big deal. I also know of an 18 year old who developed epilepsy in her leaving certificate year which had an impact on the exam and on her life opportunities. It meant the loss of her independence. Finding the right concoction of drugs is critical to stabilising the condition and preventing breakthrough seizures; it is not something that should be played with. The use of generic drugs can be a false economy in this regard. In Northern Ireland, certain drugs are not permitted to be substituted. There can be very small differences between drugs and the dosages may need to be ramped up to achieve the desired level that will work for the patient. In some cases, patients may not be prescribed their drugs by a consultant. It cannot be presumed that pharmacists will second guess what is contained in each component. Small amounts or variations can make a difference.

  A person's epilepsy may be stable for two years but a breakthrough seizure may result in the loss of a driving licence for a year which will have an impact on employment. Physical injuries such as a fractured skull or broken teeth can result from seizures. The Moran report specifically recommended that treatment for epilepsy be excluded from generic substitution. This is the case in the United Kingdom and in other EU countries. I have concerns about the ability of the Irish Medicines Board to properly evaluate or monitor what is being substituted. Breakthrough seizures can have all sorts of impacts on people's lives. General practitioners write the prescriptions in many cases. Without specialist oversight we may well cause problems for ourselves without any savings to the State in the longer term.

  I appeal to the Minister of State in this regard. Generic substitution is long overdue but it may be counter-productive in some areas and the treatment of epilepsy is one such area. It makes sense for the Government to step back. I make this appeal on behalf of 40,000 people. I refer to an Australian survey which found that quite a number of people believed they had experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace because they had epilepsy. Success in the good maintenance of epilepsy has been the good news story of the past decade. Let us not put that at risk. It is very difficult to achieve the correct maintenance treatment but this is what gives people back their independence. This should not be put at risk. The Bill has some good provisions and I do not wish to vote against it but this provision must be changed.

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