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Jails spent €14m on prescriptions over past five years

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Wheatfield Prison

Wheatfield Prison

Wheatfield Prison

Prescription drugs provided to convicted criminals serving time in Irish jails have cost the taxpayer almost €14m in the past five years.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that an average of nearly €2.8m is being spent on medications for prisoners every year.

The institution with the highest bill for prescription drugs was Wheatfield in Dublin, which has spent more than €2m on medications for its prisoners since 2009.

alternatives

It was followed by the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, which provided prescription drugs worth €1.9m to its inmates during the same period.

The prison has an operational capacity of 870, while Wheatfield can accommodate up to 550 prisoners.

Mountjoy Prison, which has a capacity of 554, spent €1.87m on prescription medications for its prisoners in the past five years.

The Dochas Centre in Dublin, which is a medium-security prison for female offenders, has spent €635,817 on prescription drugs for its prisoners since 2009. It has an operational capacity of 105.

St Patrick's Institution, where 17-year-old males are detained, spent €222,155 on medications during the same time. It has a capacity of 34.

A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service (IPS) said efforts had been made to reduce the cost of prescription medications by using generic alternatives.

"The IPS has adopted a policy on the prescribing and use of generic medicines which was developed and approved by the IPS Drug and Therapeutics Committee," said the spokesman.

"This policy states that generic medicines should be prescribed and consequently dispensed whenever and wherever possible as they deliver best value for money."

However, he noted that circumstances could arise in which a particular brand of medication is specified by the prescriber, and this is allowed within the stated policy.

"Unless otherwise indicated by the prescriber at the time of prescribing, the generic medicine is then dispensed and administered," the spokesman said.

Last year's bill for prescription medications in the 14 prisons and detention facilities in the State was €2.28m, down from €3.02m in 2012.

More than €2.83m was spent on prescription drugs for prisoners in 2011, and €2.96m was spent in 2010.

In 2009, prescription medications costing €2.83m were provided to inmates.

hnews@herald.ie


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