Thursday, 20 December 2018
Order of Business
I will conclude shortly; this will not be a Second Stage speech. I believe I heard Professor Michael Barry, the head of the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics, say on "Morning Ireland" yesterday that the decision was made at ministerial level in what he hoped was a one-off process. He said that he would ideally like to see the drugs coming on-stream via the normal process. At the same time, I thought I heard the Taoiseach say, in response to a question in the Dáil yesterday, that Ministers do not have involvement in these things. I am open to correction on that, but I hope that this is not the manifestation of a culture of spin, or an example of where the PR around these issues leads to ministerial responses. We cannot have Government by PR. While I appreciate and support the result in this case, it is important that we maintain a consistency in the processes adopted for the review of these drugs and the decisions made about them. We have long experience of the taxpayer not getting value for money when projects are rushed, and we also have safety concerns to consider. It is something we have to reflect on on an ongoing basis.