IDIS, who specialise in the sourcing and supply of named-patient medicines, say that they are considering legal action against the Health Service Executive of the Republic of Ireland following what they term its decision to terminate the procurement process to supply unlicensed medicines to all hospitals and community pharmacists.

IDIS estimate that over 25,000 patients are prescribed necessary unlicensed medicines in Ireland every year for rare cancers and other serious conditions that would otherwise go untreated as a result of the lack of availability of licensed medicines. For some of these patients, an unlicensed medicine represents the last treatment option for a serious or terminal condition.

IDIS was appointed as the preferred bidder for the supply of unlicensed medicines to all hospital and community pharmacies in the Republic in July 2007 following a competitive process.

Procurement process changed, then terminated
IDIS allege that the HSE has now unexpectedly terminated the procurement process, following fundamental changes to the way it was prepared to enter into a contract from which the tender was originally based.

Natalie Douglas, Managing Director of IDIS, said: “The uncertainty that the HSE has created for pharmacists, clinicians and medicines wholesalers alike through their incompetent management of the procurement process – fundamentally changing the basis of the contract - will undoubtedly be felt by patients themselves, potentially putting lives at risk. IDIS has been a supplier to Irish hospitals and community pharmacies for many years and would like to reassure healthcare professionals that we remain committed to supporting their needs in the delivery of safe and ethical unlicensed medicines despite the absence of a contract and appalling treatment by the HSE.

“IDIS has made substantial investment in systems, resources and infrastructure to enable us to supply customers following the award of the contract last summer. The current situation leaves IDIS with no alternative than to consider legal action under European Community legislation," she said.
By Andy Cowper