The Irish Pharmacy Union has reacted angrily to the announcement to treble the cost of prescription fees for patients and also to cut the professional fees to community pharmacists in the Budget.
The IPU said that the decision to treble the Prescription Levy for medicines from 50c to €1.50 in Budget 2013 could result in patients being hospitalised due to not getting the treatment that they need.
IPU President, Rory O’Donnell, said: "We understand the difficult budgetary situation that the Government is faced with, but increasing the levy could force sick people to go without medicine that they need. Such a move may also result in people having to be hospitalised when this could have been avoided – resulting in higher healthcare costs for the Government”.
The IPU has again called for patients in residential care, with intellectual disabilities, homeless patients and patients receiving treatment under the Methadone Treatment Scheme to be exempt from the levy.
The IPU is also "extremely surprised" at the decision to further reduce professional fees to pharmacists.
Mr O'Donnell said: "The decision to introduce the third cut in three years is disproportionate and particularly unfair on healthcare professionals who have contributed nearly €450m in savings to the Exchequer in the last three years and when 75% of the health budget is protected from change."