Sláintemedicines - a roadmap to essential medicines entitlement for universal health coverage

According to the World Health Organisation, universal health coverage is an important goal for health systems. Ireland does not currently have universal coverage as some individual have to pay for services such as visiting their GP. Sláintecare is a plan to implement universal coverage in Ireland over a 10 year period. However, this plan does not include medicines so some people will still pay for their prescriptions. Paying for prescriptions can be a disproportionate burden for people with low incomes but who do not qualify for the medical card scheme, and payments can discourage people from filling their prescriptions. One way to provide coverage for medicines for all in an affordable and efficient way is to develop a short list of effective, safe, and cost-effective medicines, which meet all health needs, and to provide free entitlement to these.

This project will determine how publicly funding such an evidence-based essential medicines list would change medicine access, appropriateness and costs in Ireland, as a high-income country moving to universal healthcare.

To do this, we will first look at current levels of payments for medicines, and how these influence whether people take their medicines or not. Also we will assess how Sláintecare would change the levels of payments for medicines for individuals and households. We will determine whether general practitioners already use a short list of medicines in their prescribing. We will then use the WHO Essential Medicines List as a basis for developing a core list of medicines in Ireland. This will involve health professionals reviewing and suggesting changes to the list based on evidence, and this process will be shaped by members of the public and policy-makers from the health system. Lastly we will estimate the costs to the health system of implementing free access to these essential medicines.

Award Date
27 June 2019
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Frank Moriarty
Host Institution
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Investigator Led Projects