Pharmacists vote in favour of motion calling for phased abolition of prescription levy

The levy has increased from 50c to €2.50 since June 2010

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Pharmacists have voted in favour of a motion calling for the phased abolition of the prescription levy, which has increased five-fold since it was introduced in 2010.

The Irish Pharmacy Union - which is holding its annual conference - wants all vulnerable patients exempt from the €2.50 charge immediately, and for it to be phased out over the next three years.

A survey for the IPU carried out in March shows that 28% of medical card holders say they think twice about taking their prescription medicines because of the cost of the levy.

One in seven said they had not filled a prescription because of the charge.

Ciara McCabe, member of the IPU’s Pharmacy Contractors Committee, said “putting economic barriers in the way of patients taking their medicine doesn’t make sense.

"People living with long term conditions like asthma, COPD or heart disease, especially those at risk of exacerbations of their illness, should be focusing on getting better and keeping well, not worrying about how they’re going to pay for their next vital prescription," she added.