Friday, 7 August 2009

Pharmacists' dispute. The drugs don't work - if you can't get them.

There was a short piece on RTE News this evening about a woman on a medical card who had to traipse around eight or nine different chemists in Dublin before finding one willing to dispense her medication for her severe diabetes.

Once again, it seems the same old Irish story of the well-off, well-organised classes – be they vintners, consultants, dentists, developers, bankers, teachers or pharmacists - making the most noise to protect their privileged positions while ordinary, or vulnerable, people have to suffer in silence.

The pharmacists, of course, claim they are not “mere retailers”, but hold the deeply responsible role of providing front-line healthcare. Not just drugs, but professional advice and diagnosis. It is hard to reconcile that boast with the actions of a substantial number of them in refusing medicine to people whose lives depend on it.

It is also hard to take seriously their claims of impending poverty and hardship due to reduced income from the revised Drugs Payment Scheme when so many of them can afford to close their entire businesses in protest at the scheme’s implementation.

If someone does die as a result of their actions, it might well prove the watershed in shifting the public’s perception of the profession and the regulation surrounding it.

Click here for list of chemists still open for State Drug Scheme business

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Lew said...


Why do people put up with such greedy money wanting people?
Do Pharmacists not realise they are there for the good of the people?
They are meant to be doing a public service, Yes they need to make a profit to survive the same as anyone else.
However the number of people that have a medical card is way way less than the people without that they can charge what they like, so how do they justify their actions by not wanting to supply the small amount (in real terms) of people with a card?

Isn't it about time that the goverment did something and forced every Pharmacist/Chemist to accept prescriptions from people with cards?

How on earth is a severly disabled, or old person with no transport of his own meant to travel from chemist to chemist and sometimes having to go to a different town just to find someone "Willing" to supply him/her with his life saving medicine?

Action should be taken now before some dies as a result of this.

Yes I know some of the people who have medical cards dont really need them, or dont deserve them, but the majority do, and its not up to me or anyone else to say who gets or dont get one.
If they have it then they should be able to use it anywhere.

The Gombeen Man said...

Normally they can, Lew - but at the moment there's a big "dispute" going on over here by the chemists.

Up until now they have been given subsidies for the State Drug Scheme, which subsidises the cost of drugs for those on medical cards, and those who are not. But the Government has decided to cut back the amount they were getting, so many of them are either 1) refusing to issue drugs under the scheme, 2)closing their drug dispensaries altogher as a "protest", or 3)Closing their shops completely.

It's been going on here for over a week now, I think, and you'd be surprised by the lack of public outrage that I can see.

But you are absolutely right - if this continues, someone will die as a result of their (in)action - and those who are least able to pay for medicine by their own means will be the ones who suffer most... like the woman above, or the cases you mention.

On another issue, we have dentists here who pick and chose whether they will accept PRSI payments from patients. Up until about 8 or 9 years ago, if you paid PRSI(and most of us have no choice), you were entitled to claim a small portion of some treatents from your PRSI. You filled out a form, and the State paid the dentist all or part of the bill. But that was not enough for the dentists, so they refused to take PRSI patients (unless they PRSI patients were happy to accept they where paying chunks of their wages in PRSI, but were not allowed to claim back what they were entitled to when receiving dental care. BTW, dentists don't pay PRSI). So now if you go to the dentist, and you are a PAYE employee, you have to establish if they will treat you if you wish to claim some of your PRSI back.

So I'm sure there as people going about teeth as rotten as the State they live in, as a result!

Anonymous said...

Nail on the head GM - LACK OF OUTRAGE. That's the problem. Look i know we've both had our difficulties with France but one thing the French excel at and actually have a word for - is that sense of outrage that draws them out on to the streets like angry wasps whenever they are confronted with this type of thing. They call it - "en colere" and I was only looking at an example of it the other day when the French farmers "etait en colere" to the extent that they dumped tons of fruit at the entrances to supermarkets who they considered to be doing the wrong thing by them. Right or wrong - who knows but the French Govt knows from experience that when the people are "en colere" it's time to listen, and they do. I've never seen it Ireland or indeed in Australia. Even when the former Australian Prime Manipulater (John Howard) promised to "never ever introduce GST (it's VAT by another name) and then did - NOBODY went out on the streets. Mind you there is a huge Irish contribution to the Aussie gene pool which might account the silence. Ponyboy

The Gombeen Man said...

Howdy, Ponyboy. Hope all is well in Tassie?

Yes, you're right. The French certainly aren't wallflowers when it comes to expressing their displeasure with authority. Mind you, they've mellowed a bit over the years and don't use the old guillotine anymore on errant establishment figures, but no - they don't mess about!

I'd say that John Howard guy would have gone far in Irish politics!

Anonymous said...

They're still trying to scam the public! My old man's prescription on his dps card is still 92 euro even though the mark up should be reduced from 50% to 20 %. The pharmacist said that all patients on DPS are treated privately and the government only cares about the amount it gets charged ???? How is that fair ? Rip off pharmacists !!!

Anonymous said...

Hang on GM

Agree with everything youre saying RE: The pharmacists but: "It is also hard to take seriously their claims of impending poverty and hardship due to reduced income from the revised Drugs Payment Scheme when so many of them can afford to close their entire businesses in protest at the scheme’s implementation."

By that logic surely any group of workers who decide to go on strike (justifiably or otherwise) "cant really be that badly off" either ?

Anyway thank Christ I live in the UK where perscriptions are capped at £6.80.

The Gombeen Man said...

Fair point ;-)