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Pharmacies 'should publicise prescription drug profits'

PHARMACIES should be forced to put up notices in their stores telling customers how much profit they are making on prescription drugs, a major new report recommends today.

The public notices should clearly state the extent of their mark up -- the amount added to what they paid for the drug -- as well as their dispensing fee.

The call is among a range of radical recommendations made in an ESRI report on how the State could get a "bigger bang" for the €1.9bn spent on medicines in 2010.

The report, commissioned by the HSE, said customers currently have little information on the price of drugs.

Although it would not be compulsory for pharmacists to post up a drug price list, advertising restrictions should be lifted.

ESRI researcher Prof Paul Gorecki said: "There is already mandatory posting of prices in dental surgeries here. In Ontario, Canada, pharmacists must post up their fees."

A spokesman for the pharamacy regulator the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland declined to say if it would be pursuing the recommendations but said it would consider the report.

The Department of Health said last night it would be in favour of pharmacists publishing dispensing fees and services provided but its implementation is a matter for the pharmacy regulator.

However, spokesman for pharmacists Darragh O' Loughlin insisted no other sector is compelled to make public their mark ups in this way and it would be unfairly intrusive.

Irish Independent