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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C
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stop smoking

Nicotine products to come under Drug Payments Scheme with cost capped at €80 per month

Currently you can get nicotine products for free if you have a medical card.

NICOTINE PRODUCTS FOR smokers wanting to quit will soon come under the 
the Drug Payment Scheme (DPS).

Currently you can get Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) for free if you have a medical card, but it has not been included in the DPS.

In a matter of weeks, the cost of nicotine replacement chewing gums, patches and lozenges will be capped at €80 a month under new plans being devised by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

Nicotine gum products can cost between €35-€55, while nicotine patches can cost between €25-€55 in some pharmacies.

Donnelly is also planning to scrap the current practice of a two week limit on the initial prescription.

This has meant that a second prescription has been required to complete the recommended dose – adding to costs for patients – who must make a second visit to a GP – and creating an unnecessary pressure on busy doctors.

If clinically indicated phased dispensing of NRT would still apply.

The minister believes that by addressing both financial and logistical barriers, these measures would further increase the opportunity and motivation to access effective stop smoking support.

The different types of licensed nicotine products include patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers and mouth sprays. 

The initiative is being rolled out as smoking is the single greatest contributor to ill health and premature death in Ireland.

A 2016 report estimated that smoking costs the State €460 million per year in healthcare costs, a further €1 billion in productivity losses and potentially upwards of €9 billion in loss of welfare. 

Nicotine product has been found to double the chances of successfully quitting compared with behavioural support alone.

Despite this, 67% of those who tried to quit in 2022 did so on willpower alone, with only 16% using NRT. However, less than a quarter of people who tried to quit were successful.

The current focus by government, as per the National Stop Smoking Clinical Guideline, is to increase the rates of supported quit attempts. The minister believes that increasing access to NRT is therefore crucial to improving the success rates and lowering the prevalence of smokers in Ireland.

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