Written Answers. - Profit Margin Disparity.

Tony Gregory

Question:

204 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Health the reason for a disparity in the profit margins in respect of items (details supplied) under the different schemes; and the plans, if any, he has to rectify this matter. [16367/96]

Limerick East): Pharmacy services under the general medical services scheme and the community drugs scheme are provided in the main through community — retail — pharmacies. These arrangements were put in place for the convenience of patients and to ensure a professional pharmacy input into patients' medicine therapy. The manner in which these schemes operate, including payment arrangements, are subject to negotiation and agreement with the Irish Pharmaceutical Union which represents community pharmacists. Arising from these negotiations, different payment arrangements apply in respect of the GMS scheme and the various community drug schemes. Payment in respect of the GMS scheme is based on reimbursement of the ingredient cost of the drug plus a dispensing fee. Payment arrangements in respect of the drug cost subsidisation scheme and the long-term illness scheme are based on reimbursement of the ingredient cost of the drug, a pharmacy mark-up and dispensing fee.

New arrangements have recently been agreed regarding the supply and dispensing of certain high tech-high cost medicinal products. These products will be dispensed by community pharmacists under a different payment system involving a patient care fee to the pharmacist for professional services provided in dispensing these medicines.