You are here

PHARMACISTS AND AGE ACTION RECOMMEND DEFERRAL OF PRESCRIPTION LEVY IPU Issue latest advice on accessing medicines during Covid-19 Pandemic

Published 08/04/2020


8 April 2020: The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) and Age Action have called for the Medical Card prescription levy to be suspended for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis. The IPU said that the measure is proving especially difficult for cocooning patients to administer and that suspending it would remove a barrier to vulnerable patients accessing medicines.

Commenting, IPU Secretary General Darragh O’Loughlin said, “One of the many challenges being experienced by people who are following official advice to cocoon at home is accessing medicines. This is being experienced most acutely by people over 70 or those with underlying conditions, the very people who are more likely to require regular medicines.

“Local pharmacies are supporting these patients by organising medicine deliveries directly to their homes, often with the assistance of Gardaí or other volunteers. It is currently obligatory for patients to pay the prescription levy, but that is proving impossible for them as volunteers are not in a position to take payments from them, so we end up with vulnerable elderly people turning up in pharmacies looking to make payment.

“Eliminating this charge at this time would be a small but compassionate gesture to those it hits hardest. We hope the Minister for Health listens to this request, which we believe would have a very real benefit to Ireland’s most vulnerable patients.”

Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action commented, “Age Action welcomes and commends the Irish Pharmacy Union’s call for Government to address prescription charges. Easing of the medical card prescription levy would provide a sensible solution and welcome peace of mind to older people who are cocooning and worried about how to pay for their essential prescriptions. The Covid-19 pandemic presents a very real emergency for many older people living on fixed incomes as they struggle to cope with new costs.”

In addition to this call, the Irish Pharmacy Union also issued updated guidelines to all people on accessing medicines in pharmacies during the Covid-19 crisis:

  • Pharmacies remain open and well stocked with all essential medicines;
  • Do not stockpile any medicine or purchase medication you do not need. One month’s supply of prescription medicines is the maximum quantity allowed by the HSE under the GMS or other Community Drug Schemes;
  • People who require medication on a regular basis should ensure their prescriptions are up to date. However, existing prescriptions which were issued for 6 months can now be extended to 9 months if deemed clinically appropriate by your pharmacist;
  • Patients or carers are asked, if possible, to phone the pharmacy two days in advance to ask that their prescription be dispensed for a particular time/date so that the pharmacy can have it ready when they come in;
  • Check with elderly family members and neighbours to make sure they have their medicines and, if necessary, help them to contact the pharmacy if they need advice or information;
  • Everyone over 70 years of age should remain cocooned at home as per public health advice, and for essential pharmacy items and food shopping, should call on family, friends or services to help you. Over 70’s should not be leaving home; and
  • People who are exhibiting fever, cough or other respiratory symptoms of Covid-19 should NOT attend at a pharmacy or GP clinic. Instead, they should stay at home and phone their GP or local HSE helpline without delay.



Age Action Ireland to benefit from Gas Networks Ireland Survey

Gas Networks Ireland is raising money for Age Action. If you've recently called their contact centre or had work done by them, you might receive a text from Gas Networks asking for your feedback. For every response received, they'll donate €2 to Age Action. There is no obligation to participate.

How It Works - If you've had contact with Gas Networks Ireland service centre or had work carried out by them, you may receive a message from Marie Lyster, their Customer Experience Manager. This message is an invitation to share your feedback. 

By providing feedback – only if you choose to – you'll be supporting Age Action Ireland. For every piece of feedback received, Gas Networks Ireland will donate €2 to our organisation. This contribution can support our efforts to improve the lives of older people in Ireland.You won't be asked for any bank details or money. Gas Networks Ireland is handling all the donations.

If you would rather not get these texts, just let them know and you won’t be included.  If you are over 65yrs old, you can contact them directly on their Age-Friendly service.  See their contact details here.

For Corporate Clients- Please note that Gas Networks donate €50 for each qualitative interview their commercial customers take part in.

Details on Gas networks customer surveys is available here.

For more information about our work and other ways to get involved with Age Action, please click here.