Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Ceisteanna (311)

Gerard Murphy

Ceist:

340 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether the amendments she introduced to the Pharmacy Bill are adequate to prevent inappropriate economic relationships between doctors and pharmacists in view of the recent debate on the matter; her views on prohibiting business relationships between doctors and pharmacists or introducing a ban on the location of pharmacies in health centres; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12817/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health and Children)

It is clear that there has been rapid growth of the pharmacy sector in recent times with many possible interactions arising between prescribers and dispensers. It is, however, my opinion, the vast majority of professionally qualified pharmacists and medical practitioners, adhere to the highest standards in the carrying out of their professional duties. However, it would be remiss not to recognise that, occasionally, unacceptable practices may arise between different professionals. In view of these concerns, namely the practice of low rents for doctors and high rents for pharmacy businesses in medical centres, and other such inducements, I have included provisions in the Pharmacy Bill 2007 to deal with this matter. I would also remind the Deputy of the recommendations of the Pharmacy Review Group in this regard, namely that there should be no beneficial ownership or business interest of any kind between dispensing and prescribing.

The sections of the Bill dealing with this issue are as follows: (i) Section 63 which deals with the prohibition of certain economic relationships between pharmacists and medical practitioners, namely either party having a beneficial interest in the others practice that would be considered in excess of standard ownership arrangements, and such as would constitute an excessive beneficial interest by virtue of these relationships. This would also involve company or corporate relationships by way of preferential leasing or tenancy arrangements, and (ii) Section 64 which deals with pharmacy and medical practices using shared premises, the type of improper economic relationships which it is considered necessary to prohibit that could arise by virtue of sharing premises, and also the expectation that any recommendations by prescribers of dispensers, or visa versa, would not be beyond that which arises through normal professional practice. I am not ruling out the co-location of pharmacies and health centres but I am prohibiting arrangements which give rise to conflicts between prescribing and dispensing.

I am confident that these two sections will achieve the fairest and most proportionate response to any possible conflicting situations, having regard to the basic legal and constitutional rights of all concerned.