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Drugs tourism expected to rise 21.10.13

CROSS border drugs tourism is expected to rise following the hike in the prescription charge for medical card patients.
People can now buy a whopping eleven packs of paracetamol (176 tablets) in the North for the cost of just the prescription charge alone in the south.
Some large British supermarket chains in Derry charge as little as 19p (0.22c) for a basic pack of 16 paracetamol caplets (500mg) while customers can get a basic pack of 16 ibruprofen caplets (200mg) in some outlets for 25p (0.30c).
However, from December 1, medical card patients in Co Donegal will have to fork out €2.50 just to have their painkillers dispensed.
Meanwhile, more and more private patients are travelling Northwards to have their prescriptions dispensed with huge savings on drugs including standard heart medications such as cholesterol-busting pills.
There are tight restrictions on how many packets of drugs, including paracetamol, that an individual is allowed to purchase over the counter in Derry with some supermarkets restricting it to two packs (32 tablets) per visit. By contrast, people getting paracetamol on repeat prescription here can get a larger batch for which they will be charged the single prescription charge.
Nevertheless, the above figures show that 100 paracetamol caplets bought over the counter in the North will cost a patient about €1.38 compared to the €2.50 prescription fee to be charged here, regardless of the number of tablets prescribed.
Donegal T.D., Deputy Charlie McConalogue (FF) said the hike - up 500 per cent since 2010 - would badly hit his constituents.
"That’s a five-fold increase in prescription charges on this Government’s watch despite the fact that Minister for Health, James Reilly, promised to abolish the original charge of 0.50 cent when he took up office," said Deputy McConalogue.
The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) said many pharmacists had contacted the organisation following last week's Budget relaying "significant" anger and concern among patients at the hike.
IPU community pharmacy committee chairman, Bernard Duggan, said:
"People living with heart disease or at risk of the disease, should be focusing on getting better and keeping well, not worrying about how they're going to pay for their next vital prescription. Poor adherence to treatments, especially in the case of chronic illness and long-term patients will mean more hospital stays, more pressure on our already struggling and depleting health service and more cost to the exchequer in the treatment of these patients in the long run," said Mr Duggan.


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