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Pharmacists warn that €2.50 prescription levy is hitting patients hard

Medical card holders are being affected by the €2.50 charge per item, pharmacists say.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

PHARMACISTS HAVE WARNED that the prescription levy introduced in the last Budget is making medical card holders less likely to buy their prescription drugs.

In a survey, a large number of medical card patients  said they would think twice about filling a prescription because of the charge.

The controversial €2.50 levy  was deeply unpopular when it was introduced by the Fianna Fáil led-government in 2010, and was increased by the current government last December.

Speaking at the start of the national conference of the Irish Pharmacy Union today, incoming president Kathy Maher said the government should introduce an exemption for patients who are homeless, in palliative care, or in residential care settings.

“As pharmacists, we are very concerned that the hike in the levy is having a significant impact on medicine usage,” said Maher.

“We need to make sure that vulnerable patients are encouraged to take prescribed medicines, not discouraged from doing so”.

The poll by Behaviour & Attitudes for IPU found that 38 per cent of medical card patients would have second thoughts about filling a prescription because of the levy,.

Since the last Budget, people with a medical card have to pay a charge of €2.50 per item, up to a maximum of €25 per family.

The charge was originally introduced in 2010 as a 50 cent levy, but has increase in subsequent Budgets.

Read: Pharmacists: New drugs list will save patients and State money > 

Read: Pharmaceuticals should be much cheaper – ESRI > 

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