Letter to todays Indo

Irish Independent 29 April 2011 – Letter

THE Retail Excellence survey results, published in yesterday’s newspaper, show that pharmacy sales have continued to decline at a faster rate than any other part of the retail sector, with the exception of ladies’ fashion, thus giving the lie to the fatuous notion that pharmacists are a “sheltered” profession, isolated from the downturn.

Both the European Commission and the European Free Trade Association have previously identified the Irish pharmacy profession as the most deregulated and most competitive in the EU, something which seems to have escaped the attention of many commentators in this country.


Again it speaks for itself.

Letter in yesterdays Irish Times

Competition among Pharmacies

Irish Times 25 April 2011 – Letter

Madam, – There has been much ill-informed comment recently about a supposed need to increase competition among Irish pharmacies. In fact, Ireland already has the most liberal and competitive pharmacy market in the EU.

There are a higher proportion of pharmacies per head of population in Ireland than almost any other country in the EU with an average of 1:2,800 people compared to a European average of 1: 5,100. The previous restriction preventing foreign-trained pharmacists from establishing new pharmacies (which was not unique to Ireland and which remains a feature of regulation in several other EU member states, including Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands and Portugal) was abolished in 2007 with the passing of the new Pharmacy Act.

We are one of the few countries where there are no restrictions on who can establish or operate a pharmacy; in the majority of EU states only pharmacists can own a pharmacy and there are population or geographical criteria restricting the opening of new pharmacies.

In 2005, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) completed a Europe-wide study of the regulation of professions, including pharmacists, and found that Ireland had the most de-regulated pharmacy market of all 25 EU member states. Similarly, a separate study, entitled Competition in Professional Services, published that same year by the European Commission, concluded that Ireland has the least regulated pharmacy market in Europe.

Of late, there have been substantial falls in the prices of hundreds of medicines, all of which have been passed on to patients by pharmacists who have themselves suffered dramatic cuts in their payments for providing medicines on behalf of the State.

The two main drivers of the national drugs bill at this stage are the increase in the number of medical cards (a by-product of soaring unemployment) and greater use of very expensive high-tech medicines, both of which schemes attract zero per cent mark-up for pharmacists. – Yours, etc,

President ,
Irish Pharmacy Union,
Rathfarnham, Dublin 14.

It speaks for itself.

Let your pharmacist know if you are going into space.

A report published last week has shown that drugs do not keep as well in space. I suppose that is only to expected as they are not in “standard” conditions. So if you are planning to travel into space let your pharmacist know so that he/she can make adjustments to the various expiry dates.
You can read more here and here about this.

Note: this does not apply to those who are just spaced out.

Well that was quick!

A little less than 3 weeks ago I wished James Reilly well in his new post as Minister for Health. A friend said to me that he was just Mary Harney with a beard. I now have two pictures in my mind. The first is Mary Harney with a beard and the other is James Reilly in a frock. I’m not sure which is the most disturbing. It was my wish at that time that he did not give me as much material for my blog and articles as his predecessor. Well I need not worry. That creative well will not dry up.

The latest round of FEMPI cuts announced yesterday is the biggest sign yet that nothing has changed. To add insult to injury the press release was filled with the same type of misinformation as the previous regime. I wonder how long we will have to wait to see the same level of cuts in payments to GPs, not that I would wish it on them. Suffice to say, I won’t be holding my breath.

I know that the country is screwed financially and otherwise but what’s wrong with sitting down with representative bodies in a meaningful way and looking for agreed ways of making savings. I guess that is just too simple.

Morning after pill

After all the hoo haa about making the Morning After Pill available over the counter here the NHS has gone one step further in Wales. They have now made it available free of charge in pharmacies. It was already available F.O.C. with a prescription from GPs and family planning clinics. I don’t expect that to happen in Ireland for about another 25 years at current rates of change.