Thursday, 10 February 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
79. Mr. Boyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the amount which is spent on antihistamines; her views on whether there is an over reliance on antihistamines for allergic reactions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4169/05]
Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children (Ms Harney): The most recent figures available show that in 2003, the total cost of antihistamines prescribed under the general medical services, drug payment scheme and long-term illness scheme was €2,338,784. Figures are not available for the sale of non-prescription, “over the counter” antihistamines.
Antihistamines are a well recognised, safe and effective treatment for a wide variety of allergic reactions. The indications for prescribing these products, together with any possible side effects and potential interactions with other medicinal products that patients may be taking, are widely referenced in medical literature. This information would also be contained in the prescribing material which accompanies the product and is, therefore, well known to doctors treating patients with these conditions.
I am not aware of any information to suggest that there is an excessive reliance on antihistamines for the treatment of allergic conditions. Prescriptions for antihistamines, as with any medicinal product, are issued by doctors based on the symptoms of the presenting patient at the time of consultation. The type and level of medication prescribed is, therefore, a matter of clinical decision for the particular doctor involved.
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