Monday 18 November 2019

Pharmacies could lose up to €30,000 each over state drug scheme cuts

Pharmacy jobs are at risk
Pharmacy jobs are at risk

Sarah McCabe

PHARMACIES stand to lose as much as €30,000 this year following cuts to state drug schemes, the industry's main representative body said.

In a new poll, one in three said they will probably have to cut staff between now and September.

This follows the Government's decision earlier this summer to scrap the 20pc mark-up that pharmacies have enjoyed until now on drugs dispensed under the state-funded drugs payment scheme and the long-term illness scheme, leaving chemists with a reduction in income.

"The pharmacy sector has already absorbed losses of €570m in Government cuts over the past four years" said Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) president Rory O'Donnell.

"Further losses to individual pharmacies from the latest cuts to income from state schemes – averaging €20,000 to €30,000 per pharmacy – will exacerbate an already difficult situation."

The trade body's newly released survey found nearly four fifths of pharmacies expect further falls in sales over the next six months, while 90pc have less optimism about their business prospects than they had at the start of the year.

"The majority of pharmacies are small business operators who are struggling. This latest survey paints a gloomy picture, with few positives on the horizon," said Mr O'Donnell.

Half of the pharmacies surveyed reported a decrease in customer traffic in the past three months.

Mr O'Donnell said: "The Government needs to safeguard the viability of small pharmacy businesses which are finding it increasingly difficult to continue providing essential services to patients and communities.

"A good start would be to tackle state-controlled business costs and exorbitant regulatory costs, which continue to undermine the sector."

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