SOME vulnerable patients are experiencing particular hardship as a result of the government decision to hike the prescription charge for medical card holders to €2.50 – amounting to a maximum of €25 a month, doctors have warned.
They have singled out psychiatrically unstable patients, heart failure patients, people on blood thinning medication, refugees and asylum seekers for serious concern.
The letter to Health Minister James Reilly from the Irish Medical Organisation said psychiatrically unstable patients can be given short courses of tables lasting a few days as doctors try out different doses in a bid to stabilise their condition. The patients must pay a charge for each prescription item every time.
They also cited the case of a patient on the blood thinning drug warfarin.
The patient may be "advised to take specific daily doses that may require mixing a number of different warfarin tablets. For example, a 4mg dose will entail a 3mg tablet and 1mg tablet.
"Indeed, an alternating daily dose of 5mg and 4mg of warfarin entails three different types of tablets: a one, a three and a 5mg tablet.
"As such these patients are liable for three fees, for three different amounts of the same named tablet, per month."
They also pointed to difficulties being encountered by refugees and asylum seekers who are receiving just €19.50 a week from the State.
The doctors said that if they were infirm or in need of many medications they were being especially penalised for their illness.
They added: "All of these anomalies have the potential effect of reducing compliance with medication and the resultant danger of an irreversible development of morbidity would eclipse any gains from the prescription charge."
Health & Living