According to Michael Barry, clinical director of Ireland's National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE), just six patients have been moved to a biosimilar version of rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira since it went off patent in October, reported The Irish Times.
The country's Health Service Executive (HSE), which spent 123 million euros on the drug in 2016, could save up to 50 million euros by switching large-scale to biosimilars, he said.
Barry also praised Britain's NHS for refusing to pay an "exorbitant" price for its cystic fibrosis drugs, while noting Ireland "didn't stand up to Vertex Pharmaceuticals [the manufacturer]."
Vertex's cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi will cost the HSE 200 million euros over five years, he said, adding that "it doesn't work for everyone, but we're paying for everyone [with the disease]."
Barry said the pricing structures of pharmaceutical companies were unsustainable and "it's about time someone woke up and smelled the coffee."
According to the news source, of 21 assessments the NCPE did of cancer drugs over a two-year period, 20 were shown to not be cost-effective, he said, yet these drugs would have cost the health service 600 million euros over a five-year period.
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