Boots has sparked a prescription price war with smaller pharmacies by slashing the cost of some of the most popular medicines by as much as 31%.
The pricing structure, which comes into effect from Friday, will see consumers pay an average of 25% less for the 10 most expensive prescription medicines.
The pharmacy giant said people living with chronic conditions such as asthma or cardiovascular disease and who were not eligible for the GMS medical card scheme would benefit most.
For example, a person living with a cardiovascular condition such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol will see their medicine bill drop from about €77.88 to €65.92, representing an annual saving of up to €203.88.
Mary Rose Burke, director of pharmacy with Boots Ireland, said many customers had come under financial pressure.
“In response to this, Boots Ireland is the first pharmacy retailer in Ireland to announce a commitment to delivering a clear and transparent pricing structure that will also result in significant savings for our customers.”
One of the drugs set for the biggest price drop is Lyrica, which treats neurological conditions. At present, Boots customers pay between €144.85 and €149.18 according to the strength of a dose for a 28-day prescription. That price will fall 31% to between €100.23 and €103.12.
The cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor will decrease by up to 28% for the highest dose. Consumers taking that dose currently pay €65.77 for a 28-day prescription. That will drop to €47.51.
Dermott Jewell, chief executive of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland, said the price reduction was great news for the public.
Mr Jewell said in a market with many providers, the pressure would now be on the other pharmacists to follow suit.
He said that in some cases, the high cost of medicines here was forcing consumers to try to buy drugs abroad or online in order to get them cheaper. He said these people were being targeted by black market operators and counterfeiters.
However, the Irish Pharmacy Union said price was not the only consideration when people were shopping for medicines.
“The Irish market is one of the most liberal and competitive in all of Europe and competition on pricing is nothing new to pharmacists,” a spokesman said.
“Prices vary and patients will go to the pharmacy that best meets their needs, not alone in terms of price but also in terms of the nature of the personal and professional service that they provide.
“The price of medicines has fallen dramatically in recent times and this trend will continue as more high-volume medicines come off patent.”
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