Written Answers. - Costs of Drugs and Medicines in Limerick.

36.

andMr. Clohessy asked the Minister for Health the amount and cost of drugs and medicines paid for by the local authority in each dispensary area in Limerick City in each of the last six years; and what method is available whereby the authority can satisfy itself that such drugs and/or medicines were genuinely used in the treatment of medical card holders.

I understand from the Limerick Health Authority that compilation of the information requested in the first part of the Deputies' question would necessitate a detailed examination of the Authority's records for the last six years.

The Health Authority has, however, supplied the following information which may be of assistance to the Deputies:

The total cost of drugs and medicines issued from dispensaries in the Limerick City area in each of the six years during the period ended 31st March, 1960, was:

£

s.

d.

Year ended—

31st

March,

1955

3,864

6

4

,,

,,

1956

4,376

12

4

,,

,,

1957

3,910

5

9

,,

,,

1958

7,055

11

6

,,

,,

1959

8,159

4

5

,,

,,

1960

10,115

0

2

Similar information for the year ended 31st March, 1961, is not yet available.

As to the second part of the question, I am informed that practically all drugs and medicines prescribed for dispensary patients in the Limerick City area are issued by the Health Authority's own compounders at its dispensaries at Lower Gerald Griffin Street and Ballynantybeg. In addition, the district medical officers for the area carry small stocks of drugs and medicines for administration or issue to eligible persons when urgently required outside the normal dispensary sessions. I understand, however, that the quantities of these items used in such circumstances are very small and form an insignificant portion of the total issues from dispensary stocks.

All drugs and medicines are issued by the compounders in accordance with the following method:

(a) in the case of items prescribed by a district medical officer, the patient is given the prescription on a printed form by the medical officer, which the patient or his representative presents to the compounder at the dispensary;

(b) in the case of items prescribed by a medical practitioner, other than a district medical officer, for lower income group patients, for example, those patients attending specialist clinics at hospital outpatient departments, the patient presents the medical practitioner's prescription together with his medical services card to the compounder at the Health Authority's dispensary.

The Health Authority is satisfied that these arrangements ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that drugs and medicines provided for dispensary patients are genuinely used in the treatment of such patients.