Health Minister James Reilly has urged more pharmacies to follow Boots Ireland’s lead and reduce the price of prescription medicines.
The British pharmacy chain yesterday announced it was cutting the cost of the most expensive medicines by an average of 25% from June 1.
“I certainly would welcome it,” said Dr Reilly.
“I am very much of the view that patients, particularly private patients, should be empowered to ask: ‘Is there not a generic form of that?’ And to say it to the doctor too when he or she is writing the prescription.”
The move by Boots has spurred a reaction from its competitors.
Irish pharmacy group Sam McCauley has taken out adverts in today’s newspapers saying: “All prescriptions reduced”.
Its group superintendent pharmacist, Mark Sajda, said prices had been cut by as much as 30%.
He said the company had already done away with mark-ups and was only charging customers the dispensing fee.
“We are constantly reviewing our prices and are competitive with anyone in the market and will not be beaten on price locally,” he said.
Isolde Goggin, Competition Authority chairwoman, said consumers were now getting the same quality products and service but at a better price.
“This increased competition among pharmacists also shows the benefits of allowing health professionals to advertise basic information about their prices,” she said.
“The Competition Authority has long campaigned for the advertising of prices to be allowed by health professionals.
“For example, doctors and dentists are now free to advertise their prices.”
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