THE future is bleak for Irish pharmacists, but they're likely to get little sympathy from hard-pressed consumers.
The latest gauge of the mood of the nation's chemists suggests they're clutching on with all their might, fighting to ensure they don't need to shed large numbers of staff, despite the turbulent times.
But despite the protestations from the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), their complaints will most likely fall on deaf ears.
Let's not forget that pharmacists were one of the groups that made up the so-called "sheltered sector" as highlighted by the troika overseeing Ireland's bailout.
The prices paid by hard-pressed Irish consumers for drugs are among the highest in the world.
An investigation by this newspaper last year found pharmacists were imposing a mark-up of up 354pc on some medicines. The IPU argue it's out of their hands, with pharmacists operating on wafer-thin margins.
There are signs that small independent pharmacies are leading the way in cutting prices sparked by fears of UK high street retail giants like Boots and Tesco.
But a weary public continues to feel the pinch.