About us

The voice of community pharmacy

The Irish Pharmacy Union is the professional representative organisation for community pharmacists, with a membership of approximately 2,300 pharmacists working in more than 1,800 community pharmacies throughout the country.

Members of the IPU are committed to delivering a quality, accessible, personal, and professional service that puts the patient first and optimises society’s health and well-being as their primary goal.

IPU Vision

To be the authoritative voice of community pharmacy and a driving force in the evolution of accessible, equitable and patient-focussed primary healthcare.

Pharmacists Members
Community Pharmacies

On your Side at your Side

We aim to lead and provide person-centred lifelong support to the pharmacists’ professional community in Ireland, by:


Advocating for your Interests

Promoting and representing the interests of community pharmacy by working closely with the Government’s Health to advocate for appropriate recognition and remuneration.


Facilitating your Practice

Offering practice support and facilitating your access to an updated library of resources, in pursuit of ensuring quality and integrity in the practice of pharmacy.


Promoting, Challenging and Supporting our Profession’

Identifying opportunities through advocacy and innovation to realise the full potential of  community pharmacy.


Cherishing our Heritage and Traditions

Embracing change and progress while still remembering our roots and values.



Delivering high-quality education and training programmes that facilitates pharmacists to keep up to date and apply their clinical skills to provide the best healthcare to patients.

IPU Statement of Strategy 2021-2024

The 2021 – 2024 Statement of Strategy will build on the progress of the previous Strategy and will inform our work as an organisation over the next three years. The Statement of Strategy, which will cover the period 2021 to 2024, has evolved and been updated to respond to the current legislative and economic context and to take account of the ever-changing professional and business environment over the next number of years.

Please be mindful that this Strategy was introduced during the COVID-19 Pandemic, which had a profound impact on our Healthcare system and influenced society, the economy, and how our pharmacies operated.

Objective 1

Develop and negotiate an updated, sustainable and fair relationship with the State that properly recognises the value of pharmacy services.

Secure an updated community pharmacy contract that:

  • Reflects the business and practice of pharmacy in the 21st Century;
  • Promotes a greater use of the capacity and scope of practice of pharmacists; and
  • Provides fair and sustainable remuneration for pharmacy services.

Objective 3

Enhance and develop the IPU and its structures and services to support the evolving needs of all members.

Secure an updated community pharmacy contract that:

  • Reflects the business and practice of pharmacy in the 21st Century;
  • Promotes a greater use of the capacity and scope of practice of pharmacists; and
  • Provides fair and sustainable remuneration for pharmacy services.

Objective 5

Embrace and shape change and innovation, and support our members to maximise future opportunities

  • Continually scan wider sector, industry and technology trends to identify potential innovation opportunities and disruptive threats;
  • Enhance and support the development and delivery of innovative and sustainable professional pharmacy practices;
  • Support adoption of digitilisation and technology to drive service and business performance in community pharmacies; and
  • Explore, identify, and implement steps to attract and retain the talent of the future in community pharmacy.

Objective 2

Influence the future direction for community pharmacy to shape health policy in Ireland.

  • Position community pharmacy at the forefront of the eHealth agenda;
  • Demonstrate and promote the value of community pharmacy to the State in terms of patient safety and health outcomes;
  • Achieve reasonable and proportionate application of regulation and administrative requirements;
  • Build collegiate working relationships across the health sector; and
  • Raise the profile of the professional role and expertise of the pharmacist.

Objective 4

Reinforce and promote the value of community pharmacy to patients and their carers.

  • Improve public awareness of the role and value of community pharmacy;
  • Collaborate with patient advocacy groups to demonstrate the value of community pharmacy to patients; and
  • Advocate for greater State support for appropriate, accessible healthcare services for patients through their community pharmacy.
Queries answered in 2023
New Pharmacists graduated in the last 2 years
Academy Members

Number of members by county

Who we are

  • 1973 – The Irish Drug Association formally registered the IPU. John Burke, (Irish Drug Association President) and Tom Miller (Chairman of the IPU) were the founding members.

  • 1974 – The GMS (Medical Card) Scheme commenced before the foundation of the IPU and replaced the old Dispensary System.

  • 1974 –The first IPU offices were located at 27 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

  • 1973-1979 –The first Secretary General, George Ledwith, was appointed in 1973 and held the position for six years.


1973 - 1979

  • 1974 – On the 8 September the first IPU President, Commdt. Jim O’Farrell was elected at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.

  • 1974 –The NEC set up the ‘Index list’ a comprehensive drug list now called Product File. In 1982 it moved to the first digital Microfiche format.

  • 1975 – The FIP 35th World Congress of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) was held for the first time in Ireland. The theme of the conference was ‘The Basis for the Quality Control of Medicines‘. 1600 delegates from 50 countries attended.

  • 1975 – There was a near withdrawal of services from the GMS due to the proposed remuneration scheme. An Independent Review body was established and eventually, the proposal was accepted in Feb 1975.

  • 1976 – The first issue of IPU Review was printed in March 1976. Originally the IPU News, it was relaunched as the IPU Review in March 1976.

  • 1979 - 1980 - Several meetings were held with the Pharmaceutical Distributors Federation representing wholesalers, chaired by the IPU, seeking to protect pharmacists' remuneration. A satisfactory outcome was eventually reached at the Shelbourne Hotel meeting with the remuneration being protected.

  • 1979-1980

    IPU History_Timeline Template


  • In 1980 the office moved from 27 Merrion Square to Main Street Dundrum, in South Dublin.

  • 1980 – The Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980 came into force which updates the law governing the relationships between consumers and suppliers of goods and services which impacted pharmacists.

  • In the summer of 1982, the withdrawal of 900 GMS non-prescription products caused much confrontation with the Department of Health. No prior consultation had been held with the Union.

  • 1983 – Ireland hosted 17 EEC countries at the ‘Pharmaceutique de la Communate Européenne’ in October 1983 at a major pharmacy conference to review the state of the profession in Europe and plot the future of pharmacy.

  • February 1992 – The first AnCO ‘Pharmacy Aide Programme‘ Staff Training Certificates were awarded. The first programme of its kind in the country.

  • 1983 – Pharmacists express concern about the drop in GMS fees and the future solvency of the profession.

  • 1984 – The IPU PCC and officers in the Department of Health meet to discuss the Union’s claim for monetary and structural changes to the GMS.

  • 1984 – New Late Night Rota service for Dublin was implemented, seeing pharmacies stay open until 9 pm.

  • 1983-1984


  • 1986 – The original IPU logo was designed by Bernadini Birkett and Gardner. The logo, based on St. Bridget’s Cross, was overlayed with an RX symbol. It first appeared in the IPU Yearbook in Autumn 1986.

  • 1987 – The new logo was used for the first time on the cover of the IPU Review.

  • February 1987 – The first President’s Dinner was held in Dublin by the IPU President Mr David Butler.

  • August 1988 – The first National Pharmacy Exhibition, IPEX, set up by John Griffey, IPU Business Manager, was held over 4 days in the RDS and 80 pharmaceutical companies participated.

  • 1989 – The IPU acquired Butterfield House in 1989. Members were levied £100 for purchase. There was some opposition voiced by trustees at a meeting in Portlaoise. It is strongly rumoured that Robert Emmet lived for a short period in the house before his execution in 1803.

  • 1988 – The IPU launched its first national ‘Talking to your Pharmacist is Good for your Health’ campaign. This was launched by the Minister for State at the Department of Health, Terry Leyden. The campaign was advertised on national radio and newspapers, along with posters and leaflets being developed for pharmacies.

  • 1992 – The IPU Review celebrated 21 years since the first issue appeared.

  • 1994 - 1996 – two years of intense negotiations led to a comprehensive review of pharmacists' involvement in the health services. The outcome was that The Health (Community Pharmacy Contractor Agreement) Regulations 1996 Pharmacy Contract was agreed with the Department of Health.

  • 1996 – A group was established representing Health Boards, GMS, the Department of Health and the IPU Community Pharmacy Committee which resulted in recommendations on 1. A new Act to replace that from 1972 focusing on the professional role of the pharmacist 2. Drug Payment Scheme, 3. Provision of High-Tech Drugs and Issue of New Pharmacy Contracts.

  • 1997 – The IPU and FÁS Training, launched the Pharmacy Sales Course, which was praised by the Minister for Health.

  • 1998 – The IPU celebrated its 25th Anniversary.

  • In late 1998, Aegis Pharmaceuticals Limited, a buying group was established. This acted as a group buying cooperative structure to improve members' competitive purchasing power.

  • 1998 – The first graduation of the IPU Pharmacy Business course took place with the Minister for Labour, Trade and Consumer Affairs, Mr Tom Kitt in attendance. This was a collaboration between the IPU and FÁS.

  • 1994-1998


  • 2000 – The first female IPU President, Marie Hogan was elected.

  • In October 2001, in an attempt to reduce self-poisoning and paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity, new legislation was introduced restriction pack sizes of paracetamol sold OTC.

  • In 2001 the first Pharmacy Technicians qualified from the first IPU course.

  • 2001 – Irish Pharmacist, Mr Joe Power, became Ireland’s first PGEU President.

  • In June 2001 Ireland welcomed its European Colleagues to Dublin for the second time for the annual PGEU conference with attendees from 27 European countries. The first PGEU conference in Ireland was in 1975.

  • The first pharmacy briefing for politicians took place in November 2002. This was for both TD’s and Senator’s and has now become an annual event.

  • 2003 – The Butterfield House extension was officially opened by Minister of State at the

  • In 2004 deregulation of pharmacies was introduced limiting the opening of pharmacies within a certain distance of each other.

  • 2005 – The graduation from the first IPU Pharmacy Technicians course took place at the National Museum of Ireland with 61 newly qualified technicians graduating.

  • 2006 – The IPU had its first stand at the ‘Over 50’s Show’ in the RDS to promote the role of the pharmacist.

  • In October 2006 it was announced that the IPU would run a television advertising campaign focusing on ‘Think Pharmacy First’.

  • 2003-2006


  • 2007 – The IPU name changed in December 2007 from the Irish Pharmaceutical Union to the Irish Pharmacy Union.

  • In April 2007 the Pharmacy Bill was enacted. This made new provisions for the regulation of pharmacy. A new system of registration of qualified pharmacists, the creation of certain offences relating to pharmacy and the setting up of new procedures to ensure that pharmacists are, and continue to be, fit to practice, amongst other items, were implemented by the PSI.

  • 2008 – The Regulation of Retail Pharmacy Businesses Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 488 of 2008) came into effect making patient consultation rooms mandatory.

  • 2011 – The first IPU Pharmacy Conference took place in the Lyrath Hotel, Kilkenny.

  • 2012 – The HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme developed an emergency Contraception Campaign for pharmacies.

  • 2012 –The Falsified Medicines Directive, a new EU law, was a patient safety initiative that introduced new requirements to prevent falsified medicines from entering the medicines supply chain but as a result, impacted the administration of the dispensing system across the EU.

  • 2012 – In June the IPU Academy launched its first e-learning programme which covered Emergency Contraception which was supported by the HPRA.

  • 2011-2012

    2013 - 2019

  • 2013 - The FIP World Pharmacy Conference was held in Dublin for the second time in 2013. The theme of the conference was ‘Towards a future vision for complex patients: Integrated care in a dynamic continuum’.

  • 2015 - The IPU Product File achieved ISO Certification for 9001 (Quality) and 27001 (Information Security).

  • February 2019 – An IPU pilot to detect ‘Hypertension & Atrial Fibrillation in the Community’ took place, this was in partnership with the Irish Heart Foundation.

  • 2020 – The Product Catalogue was rebranded as the National Health Products Catalogue (NHPC) and in 2021 the first web portal was developed.

  • June 2021 – Pharmacies got involved with the National Covid Vaccination programme.

  • 2022 – The Safe Pharmacy initiative was launched in July. Today there are over 1,087 pharmacies signed up and in September 2023 the initiative won the FIP Health Promotion Campaign award at the FIP conference in Brisbane, Australia.

  • September 2022 – The Free Contraception Scheme was launched for women with further expansion of the scheme in 2023.

  • 2023 – In June talks began with the Department of Health on the Restoration of Fees Campaign.

  • 2023 –The IPU received a letter from the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, marking the 50th anniversary of the IPU.

  • 2020-2023


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