The Irish Health Minister, Simon Harris, announced that in the upcoming weeks, Ireland will be deciding if it will be negotiating prices for specific drugs with manufacturers as part of the BENELUXA group (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Austria). BENELUXA is a collaboration on procurement of pharmaceuticals for rare diseases, which aims to collaborate closely across a range of areas such as HTAs, horizon scanning and pricing and reimbursement.
During the announcement at the Health Consumer Affairs Council, Harris mentioned that as Ireland is member of the Valletta Declaration, being part of both groups is not mutually exclusive. The Valletta Declaration is a cooperation agreement for access to medicines together with Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Spain.
Harris mentioned that he was delighted with the creation of these groups, and future aims such as further integration between countries due to common areas of interest, and sharing drug price information in accordance with commercial law, should be achieved with the help of the European Commission. Confidential price agreements do not benefit taxpayers and governments, while “the only ones to benefit are pharma companies who can offer your country one price and my country another price. There does need to be a greater deal of transparency in relation to that” Harris added. Pharmaceutical companies argue against this by saying that the confidential price agreements also keep discounts confidential which benefits the countries that make them as manufacturers can avoid reducing prices in other countries.