asked the Minister for Health the annual cost to his Department and the general medical services of the drug DF118; and his views on the use of this drug.
Written Answers. - Cost of Drug.
The total annual cost to the Exchequer of the supply of any particular drug through the public health services comprehends the costs incurred in respect of supply through the GMS ("Choice of Doctor") scheme, the drugs refund scheme, the long term illness scheme, direct purchases by health board pharmacies and purchases made by the various voluntary hospitals etc. It will be appreciated that only the annual cost arising in the GMS scheme can be readily quantified.
In 1986, the total cost of supply of DF118 to medical card holders through the GMS scheme amounted to £70,526.
DF118 is a proprietary preparation which contains the drug dihydrocodeine. Both the injectable and tablet forms of DF118 are controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Acts. However, different régimes of control apply to DF118 injections and tablets.
In relation to DF118 injections, these are subject to the same strict regime of control, including the prescription-only requirement, as applies to morphine.
DF118 tablets, on the other hand, have not been subject to the prescription-only requirement. Neither are they subject to the same detailed record-keeping requirements as apply to the injection form.
There has been some evidence of abuse of DF118 tablets and we have already taken steps to deal with this situation. As from 1 July 1987, DF118 tablets will be subject to the prescription-only requirement by virtue of the Medical Preparations (Control of Sale) Regulations, 1987, which come into effect on that date.
I should also mention that I am currently reviewing the general regime of control which applies to DF118 tablets in the context of a comprehensive review of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations, 1979. This review will be completed in the near future.