October 10, 2017

Irish Cancer Society welcomes reduction in prescription charge and drug payment scheme

The Irish Cancer Society has today welcomed moves to reduce prescription charges by 50 cent and to lower the amount cancer patients will have to pay under the Drugs Payment Scheme, but it is challenging the Government to go further.

Reacting to Budget 2018, Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society said: “Cancer patients have borne the brunt of charges introduced and increased over the course of the economic downturn and we welcome the news that from 1 January the prescription charge will be reduced to €2 cent per item to a maximum of €20 in a month, along with reductions from €144 per month to €134 in the amount patients have to pay under the Drugs Payment Scheme. This builds on the small decrease in prescription charges for over 70s in last year’s Budget.”

However, Mr. Buggy said: “the Government must go further to ensure the calamitous effects of statutory charges forced on patients during the recession are reversed.”

“We want to see a stated commitment from Government that they will abolish prescription charges by 2021, abolish inpatient charges, which have inexplicably risen in the past year, and reduce the Drugs Payment Scheme threshold to €85 by 2021. This all needs to happen to truly rebalance the burden the state shifted onto cancer patients during the economic downturn.”

Prescription charges were first introduced in 2010 and subsequently increased fivefold, while the Drugs Payment Scheme reimbursement threshold increased by 70% between 2008 and 2014. According to Mr. Buggy, these charges “have created an immense financial burden, and in some cases caused real hardship to cancer patients”.

“While this year’s Budget represents some respite for cancer patients and their families, more needs to be done and the Irish Cancer Society will continue to push for reduced out of pocket payments, so that those facing huge additional bills can get help from the state when they need it most”.