Budget 2019

  • Pharmacists – Prescription Levy should be abolished entirely 
  • Reduction in DPS threshold does not go far enough
  • Minor Ailment Scheme remains a missed opportunity

9 October 2018: The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), which represents over 2,200 pharmacists across the country, has welcomed the decision to reduce the prescription levy to €1.50 per item for the over 70s, but continues to call for it to be removed in its entirety especially for those in vulnerable patient groups, such as homeless people, those in residential care settings, patients with intellectual disabilities and palliative care patients.

The IPU also welcomed the €10 fall in the Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS) threshold to €124 from €134, but expressed disappointment that a more meaningful reduction was not announced.

Daragh Connolly, President of the IPU, said, “While a prescription charge of €1.50 may seem insignificant, it is important to remember this is a charge on the healthcare of the vulnerable in our society. Today’s Budget, has clearly demonstrated our economy has recovered to a point where we don’t need such blunt and unfair taxes.”

The damaging health impact of this levy on many vulnerable patients was highlighted in the findings of a national Behaviour & Attitudes Survey carried out in April. According to Mr Connolly this found, “that one in six Medical Card holders would ‘think twice’ about taking their prescribed medicines because of the cost of this levy. The number one priority for any patient, particularly those with long term conditions, must be on getting better. However, the continuation of this levy will ensure that unfortunately many will have to focus on finance instead.”

Mr Connolly also said that while “the €10 reduction in the DPS threshold is welcome, it is clearly not enough to have a significant impact on hard pressed families. The Government should set out a roadmap to significantly reduce this threshold to a more bearable level over the next number of Budgets.”

Mr Connolly concluded by criticising the continued failure to introduce a Minor Ailment Scheme in pharmacies. “The failure to introduce a nationwide Minor Ailments Scheme is a missed opportunity for the tax payer, the health system and most of all the patient. This would involve enabling medical card patients to receive treatment for common illnesses, free of charge, directly from their local community pharmacy in a timely manner and without the need to pay for a visit to the GP.  The introduction of a pharmacy-based Minor Ailment Scheme would save nearly 950,000 GP consultations every year, ensuring that this investment would serve patients with more complex cases. The IPU has already piloted this scheme with the HSE but has received no indication on when it will be rolled out.”


For further information contact: Sinéad Fennell, Press and Communications Manager, Tel: +353 (0)87 775 1510