Tuesday, 31 January 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
147. Mr. Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her views on the delays patients are experiencing in receiving essential medicines; her further views on the fact that people are having to use unlicensed products in the absence of the licensed version of a drug; the affected drugs; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that some medical card or GMS patients are paying for drugs rather than waiting for reimbursement approval of the unlicensed medication; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3042/06]
Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children (Ms Harney): Supply shortages of particular drugs usually arise from regulatory or manufacturing difficulties. These shortages are usually unforeseeable and of short duration. In many cases, there are already reimbursable alternative products available through the community drug schemes or, in some instances, only some dosages in the product range are unavailable.
As soon as my Department becomes aware of shortages in vital medicines, contact is made with the company concerned and every effort is made to source an alternative product from a reliable source. As happened in the recent case of injectable vitamin B12, where there were no licensed reimbursable alternatives, another product was sourced and is being reimbursed. Where the alternative product is unlicensed in Ireland, reimbursement for medical cardholders is a matter for the local area of the HSE. There is a separate reimbursement protocol for drug payment scheme patients.
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