Press Release

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD, announces publication of the Report of the Independent Body on Pharmacy Contract Pricing.

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD, today (Wednesday 30th July, 2008) announced the publication of the Report of the Independent Body on Pharmacy Contract Pricing. The Minister intends to bring the report to Government at the earliest possible opportunity in the autumn.

On 18 February 2008 the Minister for Health and Children announced the appointment of an Independent Body to recommend a new, interim community pharmacy dispensing fee for the General Medical Service (GMS), Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS) and other community drug schemes.

The body was chaired by Mr Sean Dorgan and the other members were Mr Mark Moran and Ms Mary O’Dea.

The Terms of Reference for the Independent Body on Pharmacy Contract Pricing were as follows:

“To advise the Minister for Health and Children on the appropriate level of dispensing fee to be paid to community pharmacists for existing services provided under the GMS and community drug schemes having regard to: •the overall public interest including the issues of patient safety and continuity of supply; •the fee of €5 per item which has already been offered; •the reasonable costs incurred by pharmacists in providing services under the schemes and the value of the professional service of dispensing; and •the statutory obligation on the Health Service Executive (HSE) to use the resources available to it in the most beneficial, effective and efficient manner to improve, promote and protect the health and welfare of the public;

and to submit a report on the matter to the Minister for Health and Children.”

Along with the terms of reference, the Minister set out a proposed mode of operation as follows: •both the HSE as the contracting body and the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) as the representative organisation for community pharmacists, along with other stakeholders, would be entitled to make submissions addressing whatever factors and issues are of concern to them. •the Independent Body was also entitled to engage whatever outside expertise it required to assist it with its task. •based on its consideration of submissions received and its own independent evaluation, the Independent Body was to recommend an appropriate dispensing fee to the Minister that would, in its view, represent a fair and reasonable price to be paid for the pharmaceutical service currently being provided by community pharmacists to the HSE under the GMS and community drug schemes. •each pharmacist will have three options: to avail of the interim contract immediately, to accept the interim contract upon the report of the Independent Body, or to stay with the existing retail fee structure until the agreement of a substantive new contract.

The Report sets out the findings and conclusions of the Body. In considering the issues before it the body consulted with and received submissions from interested parties. A total of 76 submissions were received, by far the greater number of which were from, or on behalf of, community pharmacists. The Independent Body heard evidence from HSE, IPU, the Pharmaceutical Distributors Federation (PDF) and a group of pharmacists represented by a firm of Chartered Accountants. It also reviewed both published and unpublished materials deemed relevant to the matter.

The Body engaged independent financial advisers to assist it in analysing data arising from submissions received and in evaluating the financial and related issues.

The Independent Body met formally on 12 occasions between February and June 2008.

The Body acknowledged that it received full cooperation from all whom it sought help and acknowledged the participation of all those who submitted information or documentation and who met with it.

Read the Report.