Donegal patients travelling north to save money on prescription drugs

The cost of medicine in the north versus the south is back in the spotlight again with claims that private patients in Donegal and other Border counties are crossing to buy their prescription drugs much cheaper.

It is estimated that heart patients who don’t have medical cards can save up to €80 on a month’s supply of six commonly prescribed cardiac drugs by having their prescriptions dispensed in the North.

This could amount to savings of about €960 in a year.

The cost of medicine on the north versus the south is back in the spotlight again with claims that private patients in Donegal and other Border counties are crossing to buy their prescription drugs much cheaper.

It is estimated that heart patients who don’t have medical cards can save up to €80 on a month’s supply of six commonly prescribed cardiac drugs by having their prescriptions dispensed in the North.

This could amount to savings of about €960 in a year.

The Independent reports that two chemists in Co Donegal quoted a total price of €96.54 and €96 respectively for a month’s supply of six commonly used drugs.

Two chemists in Derry city, by contrast, quoted €17.80 and €21.62 respectively for a month’s supply of the same six drugs.

Another Derry chemist quoted €38.15 for the six.

The major savings reflect a recent report revealing that the HSE is paying 12 times more for drugs than the UK’s National Health Service.

Talks are due to begin next week aimed at significantly reducing the State drugs bill.

The general manager of Bradley’s chain of pharmacies in the North, John McArdle, said many patients were travelling from the Republic for their prescriptions.

He told the newspaper that people in the know have been doing it for years but the majority of patients wouldn’t know they can get this service in the North.

The Irish Pharmacy Union said community pharmacists have “no role” in deciding the base price of medicines, which are set by agreement between the HSE and the major pharmaceutical manufacturers.