Written Answers. - Cost of Drugs.

239.

asked the Minister for Health the reason for the relatively high cost of drugs in Ireland vis-à-vis other Western European countries; the action his Department has taken or is taking to ensure that drugs are available to the Irish consumer at a reasonable price; if he has satisfied himself that present costs here are reasonable; the reason many of the same drugs sold in Ireland are reportedly available on the Continent at less than half the Irish price; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Under the terms of an agreement concluded by my predecessor, the trade price of drugs on the Irish market is directly linked to the comparable British trade price. This agreement expires on the 30 June 1988.

Since I assumed office discussions have been initiated with the Federation of Irish Chemical Industries in relation to the operation of the agreement.

I am sure that the Deputy will appreciate that any further statement by me on the matter at this stage could be prejudicial to the satisfactory outcome of these discussions.