Stephen Donnelly announces €20m for new medicines following outcry

Lack of funding for new medicines in October’s budget had been criticised

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, has announced €20 million in funding for new medicines in 2024.

The announcement comes after the sector criticised the Government’s decision not to fund new medicines in October’s budget.

Industry experts at the time said at least 4,000 seriously ill patients may be unable to access potentially life-saving medicines next year as a result of the lack of new funding.

However, Friday’s announcement on new medicines is in addition to the record almost €3 billion being spent on medicines. This represents nearly €1 in every €8 of public funding being spent on health.


The Department described the situation as an “unprecedented level of investment in our health services”.

Mr Donnelly said the new funding will support patients with cancer to access exciting new therapies with the promise of greatly improved health outcomes.

“Many other clinical areas will benefit from this new funding announcement including chronic kidney disease, drugs used to treat autoimmune conditions as well as inherited and rare disorders,” he said.

Mr Donnelly said while there has been “new investment year-on-year” to support access to new medicines, “much more needs to be done by all relevant parties to improve the sustainability of medicines expenditure”.

“I have been clear that in 2024 there must be a focus on drug expenditure to ensure the safe, effective, and cost-effective use of medicines and the identification of new short and long-term opportunities to realise savings and efficiencies,” he added.

Going into 2024, the Minister has tasked the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Department, and all relevant agencies and stakeholders to place a priority focus on achieving cost savings which can then be considered for additional reinvestment.

This will include, for example, the examination of measures to enhance the use of generic and, in particular, biosimilar medicines, the Department said.

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Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times