Last week, I wrote about my pursuit of a blood glucose meter that has bluetooth capability and I came across some information about why there are more devices available in the UK on the National Health Insurance (NHS) than there are available on the HSE (Irish version of NHS) in Ireland.
The type 1 diabetes market in Ireland is minute compared to our neighbours in Britain, at a staggering 400,000. It's estimated that there are only 16,000 children, young people and adults with type 1 in Ireland. The potential to make a profit out of us is teeny.
This might sound harsh but a business cannot do business without making a profit. It's just not viable. I don't dispute the pharma company's reluctance when it costs so much to break into our markets.
The pharma companies have to have people to sell the product and a support team to help patients use the product. That is a significant cost to them. Then, pharma companies have to jump through some hoops such as random clinical trials to prove the benefits of the product and assess the demand for their product, in order to apply to become available on the HSE in Ireland. This also takes time and money but it is a once off.
And there is one set of standards, procedures and guidelines for us here in good old ROI and another similar set, but not the same in the UK.
This makes me wonder, if there is a way for the NHS and the HSE to work together to make one complete process of the procedure? Could we have the devices and products approved at the same time for both countries, while still delivering high quality medical devices to the patient?
The benefits of having one procedure would range from reducing the cost to the companies of the entrance into the both markets, to a cost savings for the health services with a more competitive market.
Maybe the problem isn't that easy to solve, but maybe it's worth exploring further?