Pharmacy nets almost €1m in state payments
A DUBLIN pharmacy earned almost €1m in state payments for dispensing drugs under various schemes last year, new figures obtained by the Irish Independent reveal.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) paid out €930,238 to Abbey Healthcare Ltd in Dun Laoghaire in Dublin, including €526,043 in fees, for giving drugs to medical card holders and recovering drug addicts.
The pharmacy earned €229,438 in fees and drug mark-ups for patients on the Long-term Illness Scheme, who get free medicines.
And the Tipperary town dental practice of Jerome Kiely was the top earner in the table for treating medical card holders in 2010, getting €322,521, down from €406,859 in 2009.
The second-highest-earning practice, headed by Terence Fox in Letterkenny, received €317,355 under the scheme last year, compared to €384,345 in 2009.
Both pharmacies and dentists have seen a substantial cut in state fees in recent years, sparking warnings about the impact the reductions are having on the viability of practices and jobs.
Most dentists have seen another cut in earnings in 2011 as the effects of the curbs on dental services offered to medical card holders take hold.
The Irish Independent recently highlighted the case of 16-year-old teenager Shauna Murphy, who was told she would have to have 14 teeth needlessly extracted because of drastic medical card cutbacks.
This is because a medical card-holder is now restricted to two fillings a year, regardless of the recommendations of the dentist.
Details of the payments to pharmacies, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show the dominance of chains, including Unicare, Hickeys and Boots, in the earnings table.
Overall, 36 pharmacies earned over €500,000 in fees and drug mark-ups under the schemes, with another 94 getting over €400,000.
State fees to pharmacies dropped to €255m in 2010, compared to €257m in 2009.
The tables show 30 dental practices received over €200,000 for treating medical card patients last year .
The Mayo dental practice of Shane Cadden, which earned €577,051 in 2009, saw the income from the scheme drop to €220,343 last year.
According to figures from the Department of Health, 18 million prescriptions were dispensed to medical card holders in 2010, up from 16 million the previous year.