Smart Consumer: Can I get a refund for pills that I can't use?
Q Jean contacted Smart Consumer about two packets of tablets that she can no longer use. She bought two packets of Reductil, but as they were subsequently taken off the market she couldn't finish the course.
She writes: "I paid €91.60 per packet. Am l entitled to a refund if l take them back to the pharmacy?"
A Yes, Jean should get a refund but to double check if there were any special procedures relating to recalled medicine products, Smart Consumer also contacted the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU).
The IPU confirmed that Reductil was recalled from the market in February this year and said under the Pharmacy Act 2007, a pharmacy "may accept the return of a medicinal product" and then ensure that any such returned medicinal product "shall be disposed of in a manner otherwise for the purpose of use as a medicinal product".
Next Smart Consumer turned to the Irish Medicine Board (IMB), whose role, when a medicine is withdrawn or recalled, is to monitor the removal of the product from use or sale.
The IMB said their remit "does not extend to arrangements for credit between the supplier and the pharmacy or between the pharmacy and the patient/customer". So they recommended that Jean discuss the matter with the pharmacy where she bought the product.
It also said "aside from the matter of a refund, we strongly recommend that the patient return the packs to a pharmacy which will arrange for these to be disposed of in a safe manner that is compliant with national legislation".
So no clarity on refunds, although the National Consumer Agency did point out that the consumer should not be the one to lose out in a situation like this.
Smart Consumer's local pharmacy in Chapelizod provided final clarity.
The pharmacist there confirmed that when a medicine product is recalled they return it to their wholesaler where in turn it is returned to the manufacturer.
A refund is issued for returned stock, and they do refund customers, whether it's for a whole pack that is unused or for just one tablet left in the box.