Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/07/2014 -- With a population of around 4.6mn, the Republic of Ireland represents a small but advanced market for medical equipment. Prior to the global recession and Ireland's financial assistance package from the EU, IMF and ECB in 2010, the country had experienced rapid economic growth and had invested in largescale renovation and redevelopment of its healthcare infrastructure.
The government faces an extremely tight financial operating environment in the next few years. It has attempted to ringfence health spending as far as possible. Patient charges were raised in 2009, and the 2010 HSE National Service Plan envisaged cuts and efficiency savings in some areas, but levels of spending have plummeted since the intervention of the IMF and European institutions. In its seventh review of Ireland's economic assistance package, the EC, ECB and IMF requested details as to how the government plans to cut spending on healthcare, not least because it posted a financial deficit of EUR399bn in the first nine months of 2012.
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In July 2012 the Department of Health published the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012, which was passed in May 2013 and due to become into law by mid-2013. This incorporates a range of cost-cutting measures, including generic drug substitution and outlines the procedures regarding the supply of medicines and medical equipment to patients. The government also plans to improve efficiencies in hospitals as a means of cutting costs. Other changes ahead include the Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2012, which introduces new regulations regarding health insurance and will almost
certainly lead to higher premiums for patients.
Ireland has positioned itself as an attractive European manufacturing location for medical firms from the USA and elsewhere. It offers financial incentives for companies wishing to relocate, an English speaking workforce, access to finance, advanced research and development services and ready access to the wider EU market. As a result, most large US medical firms have some manufacturing capacity in Ireland. Only a very small proportion of this is intended for the domestic market, however. The presence of so many US manufacturers has turned Ireland into one of the world's leading exporters of medical equipment. The total stood at US$9.4bn in 2012. The bulk of this is either exported back to the USA or on to other EU
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