Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Public Accounts Committee

2020 Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 38 - Health

9:30 am

Photo of Brian StanleyBrian Stanley (Laois-Offaly, Sinn Fein)
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I have one other quick question. In relation to pharma companies, is there any funding, benefit-in-kind, sponsorship or money for research for any particular projects that may transfer to healthcare professionals, healthcare facilities, hospitals or any entity working in the public system? We spend in the region of €2.3 billion a year on drugs. It is a substantial amount of money. A number of other European countries and the USA have regulations in place to govern the situation. Mr. Watt will be aware that a number of companies are buying up GP practices, so they could have ten or 20. We do know that we have a high prescription rate of drugs. I am not medically qualified to say whether that is right or wrong but, apparently, compared to other countries we do dish them out fairly plentifully. We do not have any way of tracking that. I wish to raise the concern that people may be receiving more medication than they need or more expensive medication than is necessary. I acknowledge that we have made progress over the years. It is not that long ago that a standard antibiotic was approximately €28 and now we can get it for €8 or €9. I acknowledge the work that has been done by the Department in that regard. Has Mr. Watt discussed with his colleagues or with the Minister the need to bring in regulations to ensure transparency so that if anyone working in the public system or entities attached to the public system or working within it are receiving any benefit, financial or otherwise, or benefit-in-kind from a pharma company, that the information is put on a register.