PAUL CULLEN, Health Correspondent
THE DEPARTMENT of Health and drug manufacturers are close to a deal that could cut the State’s drugs bill by up to €400 million.
Although some details remain to be ironed out, an agreement cutting the annual cost of drugs for the next three or four years is expected to be struck next week.
Any deal that yields significant savings will come as a godsend to Minister for Health James Reilly, who has been heavily criticised recently over health spending overruns.
The deal with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association is expected to yield savings of €30 million to €40 million for the remaining months of this year, less than the projected €60 million to €70 million forecast by the Minister, according to sources close to the talks.
However, with the troika exerting heavy pressure on the Government to rein in health spending, any substantial injection of immediate cash will be welcomed by the department.