VAT on Condoms is ‘tax on safe sex’ argue pharmacists

  • IPU also calls for expansion of vaccination services

14 September 2018: The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has called for the Government to eliminate VAT on condoms as part of its efforts to make contraception more affordable and easier to access. The call was made as part of a pre-Budget Submission which also included recommendations around increased access to oral contraception and vaccination services.

Commenting, pharmacist Caitríona O’Ríordan, a member of the IPU Executive Committee said, “The Government has a stated objective to improve access to contraception and to reduce the rate of unplanned pregnancy, this also aligns with the strategy to improve sexual health in Ireland. There is currently a VAT rate of 13.5% on condoms, which is counterproductive and goes against these ambitions. This is essentially a tax on safe sex, and we are calling on the Minister for Finance to abolish this tax in the upcoming Budget.

“Condoms are the best protection against sexually transmitted infections and can reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies. Reducing the cost of condoms and improving ease of access will increase their use, particularly among younger adults where cost has the biggest impact.”

The pre-Budget Submission also reiterates the IPU’s call to the government to put in place a scheme to enable women to access oral contraception (‘the pill’) directly from their community pharmacist without prescription or charge. According to Ms. O’Ríordan, “Access to birth control is a major public health issue because of the risk of unwanted pregnancies. By making birth control easier and more convenient to obtain, more women will have access to it, which should result in reduced rates of unintended pregnancy. There are no clinical reasons why oral contraceptives should still require a prescription. The oral contraceptive is one of the safest and most well studied medicines available.

Ms O’Ríordan concluded, “The IPU believes that allowing pharmacists to work to their full scope will deliver better patient outcomes. The challenge now is to ensure that community pharmacy is empowered to deliver more for patients and the public into the future. Increasing access to contraception through pharmacies will be another step towards achieving this aim.” 


Notes to the Editor:

Irish Pharmacy Union: The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) is the representative and professional body for community pharmacists. With over 2,300 members working in 1,761 pharmacies (95% of all community pharmacies), which employ directly and indirectly 26,000 people.

Budget Submission: The full Submission detailing the IPU recommendations can be viewed here: http://ipu.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Pre-Budget-Submission-2019.pdf

For further information contact: Sinéad Fennell, Communications Manager, IPU, Tel: 087 7751510.