Local pharmacist warns over ‘sick tax’

The trebling of the prescription tax from 50c to €1.50 on medical card prescriptions is little more than a ‘sick tax’ that will cost as much as the property tax.

This is the view of Galwegian Dr Barra Nevin, the Irish Pharmacy Union West Regional chair, who is highly critical of the tax which will come into effect on January 1.

“I am disappointed by the excessive hike on this tax, considering the Minister for Health, James Reilly promised to abolish this tax before the last General Election,” said the Roscam pharmacist.

Dr Nevin said that while the 50c tax encouraged people to monitor surplus medication at home, a 300 per cent increase will “prevent people from getting their medication at all”.

“This tax has been increased too quickly and too highly without any safeguards,” he said. “Any patient who is on more than 12 tablets a month will have to pay €19.50 a month or €234 in a year -as much as many will pay in the much talked-about property tax. These are the most hard-pressed of all medical card holders, many who are disabled and depend on family or outside carer assistance.”

Dr Nevin said there should be an exemption for certain patient cohorts from the levy including those in residential care settings, patients with intellectual disabilities, homeless patients, and patients receiving treatment under the Methadone Treatment Scheme.

He is now calling on the HSE and the Department of Health to “immediately review the trebling of this ‘sick tax’” and to set up a monitoring group to analyse what effects this trebling of prescription tax will have on children’s health.

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