The Government will do its utmost to make sure that new and innovative medicines are available to people who need them, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Minister for Health, Simon Harris, gave the assurances to Deputy Heydon in the Dáil this week.

Deputy Martin Heydon said: “I am delighted to see this commitment by the Government to ensuring that new and innovative medicines are available to people who need them.

“Minister Harris told me the Government has done three things to drive down the cost of new drugs.

“It has agreed a deal with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association, which has saved hundreds of millions of euro and kept drug pricing roughly stable at €2 billion per year despite the fact that we are purchasing more drugs.

“The Government has also developed Ireland’s first ever biosimilars policy, this means that once drugs are out of patent, Doctors will be able to prescribe generic medicines with similar properties.

“Ireland will now seek to join the Benelux “A” group which is composed of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Austria.

“As part of the group, we could voluntarily opt-in to try to purchase drugs with these countries and share information. I will be travelling to Belgium and the Netherlands next month to advance this objective.

“Medicines play a vital role in improving the overall health of Irish patients. Securing access to new and innovative medicines, in a timely manner, is a key objective of the Irish health service and Fine Gael in Government will strive to ensure this is done,” Deputy Heydon said.