What's the difference?
In one pharmacy, a 28-day course of the ulcer drug Losec costs €27.72, compared with €21.96 for its generic equivalent (omeprazole), both including dispensing fee. That's a difference of €5.76, or €75 a year.
The same is true of over the counter (OTC) medications. Zirtek is a brand of antihistamine -- formula cetirizine dihydrochloride, if you want to ask for its generic name -- used for treating allergies.
A pack of seven tablets costs €5.39. Its generic equivalent, meanwhile, Cetirelief Allergy, made by Irish company Éireceutica, costs €9.99 for 30 tablets. That's 77 cent versus 33 cent per tablet, a saving of 57%.
A quick call to three local pharmacies established that one charges a dispensing fee of €4, another €4.50 and the third €5.
It may seem petty to quibble about a euro, but when you think of three pharmacies within a mile of each other charging a difference of 25%, why lose out even more by paying for your medication?
Tara, a 24-year-old student, gets a six-month prescription for the oral contraceptive pill Cilest. She spends €5.03 a month and leaves the prescription on file with the pharmacist. This incurs a separate fee each time. To get six months' supply in one transaction would cost €12.58, saving her €17.60.