The 50c Prescription Levy

Simon.D

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A number of drug suppliers have decided to ration drugs in Ireland. Over the past few months a number of drugs have been scarce in Ireland.

The suppliers are only giving the wholesalers a limited supply of certain drugs at the start of each month. If the wholesaler runs short during the month, they will not receive any additional stock until the following month.

The drug suppliers refer to this process as "drug allocation". There are a number of drugs that have already been allocated and the rumour is that more of them will be "allocated" over the next few months.

An example of one of the allocated drugs is Cerazette.
It appears that the drug companies are getting better prices for many of their products in other countries. There is also the whiff of revenge in the air because the Irish drug companies were forced to lower many of their prices last January.
We're a small market that used to have the benefit (in the eyes of the manufacturers) of paying a premium for medicines, and thus we were a favoured site to offload them.. Now we're not so favorable, and still very small, and thus security of supply is becoming more of a difficulty. The last year has been crazy in this respect, with a major increase in absence of widely used meds being short for months at a time.. This is probably going to get worse..

In my opinion, in order to secure supply to this country we need to team up with the UK and share a common drugs market. .We've the same language (so same packaging requirements), and together have more clout in negotiating with Drugs companies... In my mind it makes complete sense..
 


pandora

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The issue of shortages of essential drugs has been raised by both GPs and pharmacists at their recent conferences and although it hasn't really impacted on large numbers of patients yet due to a considerable amount of juggling of stocks it may well soon reach a crisis point.

In my opinion, in order to secure supply to this country we need to team up with the UK and share a common drugs market. .We've the same language (so same packaging requirements), and together have more clout in negotiating with Drugs companies... In my mind it makes complete sense..
It certainly makes a lot of sense but there could be a problem in that we have different currencies. If Sterling falls prices of drugs imported into the UK would rise, while the price of those they export would fall.

The reality is that you can't keep cutting and think there won't be consequences.
 

vladimir

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100% agree, Costs more to collect
The pharmacy simply charges the money as they hand out a prescription. That doesn't cost anything.

The HSE computer software automatically deducts 50 cent from the price they pay the pharmacy.

Where's the cost in collection?
 
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Tweek

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The pharmacy simply charges the money as they hand out a prescription. That doesn't cost anything.

The HSE computer software automatically deducts 50 cent from the price they pay the pharmacy.

Where's the cost in collection?
The HSE software doesn't always properly calculate the tenner-per-family limit and the follow up process costs money.

It also eats up pharmacy time in sorting out linking families on their computer systems and refunding people they've overcharged, etc.

The entire point of it wasn't to collect money, it was to reduce the drugs bill by making people actively remember to stop collecting drugs they don't take.
 

Merovingian

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We're a small market that used to have the benefit (in the eyes of the manufacturers) of paying a premium for medicines, and thus we were a favoured site to offload them.. Now we're not so favorable, and still very small, and thus security of supply is becoming more of a difficulty. The last year has been crazy in this respect, with a major increase in absence of widely used meds being short for months at a time.. This is probably going to get worse..

In my opinion, in order to secure supply to this country we need to team up with the UK and share a common drugs market. .We've the same language (so same packaging requirements), and together have more clout in negotiating with Drugs companies... In my mind it makes complete sense..
+1
 

organiser

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The 50c per item medical card prescription charge is unlikely to be removed. The HSE is saving about 35 million euros a year by having the charge. There has been very little political fallout. It is rumoured that as part of their answer to Dept. of Finance requests for budgetary savings that the HSE has offered the idea of increasing the charge to 75c. (only a rumour so far, no confirmation available)
 

vladimir

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The HSE software doesn't always properly calculate the tenner-per-family limit and the follow up process costs money.

It also eats up pharmacy time in sorting out linking families on their computer systems and refunding people they've overcharged, etc.

The entire point of it wasn't to collect money, it was to reduce the drugs bill by making people actively remember to stop collecting drugs they don't take.
I doubt the issue of over charging really occurs.

The maximum family limit is €10 at 50 cent per drug, or a total of 20 drugs per month. Only a very small percentage of families are getting more than 20 medications per month. An elderly couple might have 10 or 11 medications between them if they are in poor health, but then they are unlikely to have children at the same address also getting medication which means they would not exceed the €10 charge.

Also I dont see what the problem is with the HSE computer linking up medical cards. Cards for different family members have similar numbers which computer software can easily recognise.

In the small percentage of cases that people do pay over €10, I would assume an even smaller percentage would bother going through the whole process of contacting their local HSE office, filling in forms, etc to claim back maybe one or two euros.

So this argument that the 50 cent costs more to collect than it saves does not hold up.
 
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Tweek

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The maximum family limit is €10 at 50 cent per drug, or a total of 20 drugs per month. Only a very small percentage of families are getting more than 20 medications per month. An elderly couple might have 10 or 11 medications between them if they are in poor health, but then they are unlikely to have children at the same address also getting medication which means they would not exceed the €10 charge.
Believe me, it happens a lot more often than that. Family with 4 kids, both parents on lipitor or the likes, one kid with asthma, etc etc. 4 items is pretty much the average monthly script for someone on a medical card, 4 people in a family and they won't be over it - but for there to be an average there has to be quite a lot of people above it, plus those with larger families are more likely to have medical cards for a vast range of reasons.

Also I dont see what the problem is with the HSE computer linking up medical cards. Cards for different family members have similar numbers which computer software can easily recognise.
In theory, all members of the family have medical card numbers with sequential trailing letters after the head-of-household. In practice this doesn't happen either. One person gets a card before the rest of the family (medical not financial grounds), or two people with pre-existing medical cards become a couple, have kids outside of marriage, whatever and numbers end up all over the shop.

In the small percentage of cases that people do pay over €10, I would assume an even smaller percentage would bother going through the whole process of contacting their local HSE office, filling in forms, etc to claim back maybe one or two euros.
Believe me, its not a small number of cases and virtually EVERYONE who's asked to pay more than the tenner asks for their few cent back. Its the pharmacist who generally gets landed with having to recover this.

This is my industry, I know what I'm talking about here. As I said, the 50c charge was never intended to bring in money or even be revenue neutral on its own grounds - it was to reduce the amount of unneeded medications being claimed for.
 

Owryan

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Aug 16, 2010
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Im lucky enough to have a medical card and have no issues with the 50 cent charge.

Due to my current situation I see my gp twice a month and get a monthly perscription for my meds. 50cent is not a whole lot to have to pay when I dont have to hand over 60 euro a time to my gp and my monthly perscription would be over 200 euro.

As am aside the pharmacy I go to doesnt demand the 50c, they only ask if you can afford it.
 

Tweek

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They may actually be losing money on that exchange, in some cases!
 

pandora

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promises, promises

James Reilly promised to get rid of the 50c prescription levy and everybody knows politicians do everything they promise so just be patient. He'll get around to it soon.
 

vladimir

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Im lucky enough to have a medical card and have no issues with the 50 cent charge.

Due to my current situation I see my gp twice a month and get a monthly perscription for my meds. 50cent is not a whole lot to have to pay when I dont have to hand over 60 euro a time to my gp and my monthly perscription would be over 200 euro.

As am aside the pharmacy I go to doesnt demand the 50c, they only ask if you can afford it.
How can someone not afford 50 cent when we have some of the most generous social welfare rates in Europe.

Pharmacies are legally obliged to collect the 50 cent levy. It is not up to them to decide who and who not to ask based on perceived abilty to afford.
 


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