Pharmacy thrives as generic drug price policy saves customers 50%

A pharmacy offering cross-border generic drug prices has had to use a call-centre to cope with the hundreds of telephone calls it is receiving every day.

Last week, Dublin-based pharmacy, Healthwave, launched a subscription service with an annual fee of €25 that allows customers to save 50% on prescriptions.

A spokesman for the Dundrum pharmacy said it was receiving more than 400 calls and 250 emails every day since the scheme was launched.

Around 300 people call to the store every day and more staff have been employed to deal with them.

Pharmacist and Healthwave chief executive Shane O’Sullivan said that, with HealthPass, their prices were on a par with those offered in pharmacies in the North.

Mr O’Sullivan, a University College Cork graduate, is aiming to open a second Healthwave store in Cork in the next couple of months.

The HealthPass scheme, the first of its kind in Ireland, is modelled on systems currently in place in pharmacies across the United States.

Mr O’Sullivan, 27, said he had been almost run off his feet since launching the scheme and had not got a chance to total the number of people who signed up for HealthPass.

Next month the pharmacy that opened last December will provide a free national courier service to people who pay the €25 fee to join its saving scheme.

Mr O’Sullivan said people from all over Munster had travelled to Dublin to visit the store over the past week.

A number of customers said they were considering giving up their medication because of the cost.

Mr O’Sullivan said widespread generic substitution was taking place in Ireland for all patients, but the mark-up on generics was often three and four times the value of the medication in other countries.

“I just think people should have access to cheaper prices. Obviously, we are hoping to get a much higher volume than traditional pharmacies because we have a much lower profit margin,” he said.

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