Monday, 3 August 2009

Chemists and State Drugs Scheme

A couple of years back, when on holiday in Spain, I had reason to visit a chemist with a prescription. I can't remember what the pills cost, but I was shocked at how cheap they were, compared with my experiences of chemists in Ireland. Not that I'm a regular customer, you understand.

My impressions were confirmed when I had to renew the prescription on coming back to Gombeen Nation. The same drugs were more expensive.

So isn't it ironic, that in a country which supplies Europe and beyond with much of its drugs - due to the activities of US pharmacuetical multinationals in Ireland - that "the cost of medicines in Ireland is among the highest in Europe" (Sunday Business Post 2.8.09).*

The same source lists the cost breakdown under the Drugs Payment Scheme of Lipitor, a drug frequently prescribed to treat high cholesterol. It makes interesting reading:

Packet of 28 Lipitor tabs (cost at present), (cost under new system):

Ex-factory price: €21.39; €21.39.

Wholesale mark-up: €3.78; €2.14.

Pharmacy mark-up: €12.59; €4.71.

Pharmacy fee: €3.16; €5.00.

Total cost: €40.92; €33.24.

I'm assuming that the costings for this particular drug are not untypical? It would be interesting to see a breakdown for other countries.

List of Pharmacies open for State Drugs Scheme business

*Just as an aside - and, dear reader, you'll know I can't resist stuff like this - isn't it also ironic that Ireland, a country that forbade the use of condoms for "recreational" sex up until 1984, now supplies much of the world with Viagra (albeit by multinational proxy).

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Anonymous said...

jesus GM I'm glad my ould ticker's arterial system kept up the ghost till I got to Van Diemen's Land. Those Lipitor prices of yours are enough to cause the LDL boyos to march out and clog up every available artery in protest. i just checked the prices here and Lippy is on the list of drugs subsidised under the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme so everyone who needs it gets it at 18.70 Euros for a pack of 30 and it's the same price no matter which dosage you're on. If you've got the equivalent of a Medical Card then you get it for 3.02 Euro. Can't wait for my Thyroid to pack in - the medication for that is even cheaper!!
Pony Boy

Lew said...

What's the difference between
Pharmacy mark-up
Pharmacy fee?

Surely the Pharmacy's profit comes from the "mark-up"?
Why or how are they entitled to a fee as well?

Also you do know you can buy most prescription medicines cheaply online from reputable companies? both brand name and generic "unbranded" but the same drugs.

Ella said...

It seems we get ripped off whether we go to the chemist or the supermarket. We are not called rip off Ireland for nothing you know!

Msg for Lew a pharmacy fee, is the fee for dispensing the drugs/medication.

Anonymous said...

hallo thereMR .GM tis a grand soft day here in bh reminds me ofthe auld sod,so now we know why illegal drugs are all the rage its just market forces at work they are cheaper with 24 hr service,what a great little country should be renamed Scamoirland cheerio

Bernd said...

As to the pharmacy fee ... it is plain ridiculous! I had to get stuff for the eyes on a prescription from the Mater, hopped over to the nearest pharmacy and paid. As this was a repeat prescription, I paid the same price twice more.

Then I hit Boots in the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, not my preferred pharmacy but handy. The bought-in pharmacist (an Iranian, I think) looked at the prescription, at me and then sadly shook his head ...

He explained that the meds were actually prescription-free, over the counter. And that by getting them on prescription I was paying more due to the fee the pharmacy adds on.

Rip-off Ireland, anyone?

The Gombeen Man said...

Thanks for the comments, folks. And yes, it would make you sick.

Also, someone told me that pharmacists' qualifications acquired elsewhere are not accepted by the "profession" in this country - and they get paid nearly twice as much here as they do in Britain.

Anonymous said...

We are being screwed from all angles - look around your local town and see how many chemists, opticians, auctioneers, solicitors, pubs etc... there are per head of population. They all survice because prices are fixed at articifically high levels and like ejits we pay them.