New legislation has recently come into effect. This legislation allows the HSE to set one price, called the reference price for groups of medicines which are interchangeable.
What is a Reference Price?
The reference price is the price which the HSE will use to reimburse pharmacies for medicines supplied to patients on medical card and other reimbursable schemes.
What are Generic Medicines and Interchangeable Medicines?
A group of interchangeable medicines usually includes the original branded product and several generic medicines. A generic medicine contains the same drug in the same strength as the branded product but is made by a different company and tends to be cheaper. The reference price is generally the price of the cheapest generic available in the group.
In most cases switching from a branded product to a generic equivalent is seamless with no adverse effects experienced. Most patients find that the generic equivalent offers the same beneficial effect as the branded product and doctors are generally happy for them to switch.
"Do Not Substitute" and Co-Payment
If your doctor prefers you to remain on a branded product for medical reasons he or she can write the branded name on your prescription with the words ‘Do Not Substitute’. In this case we will dispense the branded product and the HSE will reimburse the cost of this. If, however there is no medical reason for you to have the branded product but it is your preference you can still request that we dispense the branded product. In this case though you will be asked for a co-payment as well as the normal prescription levy. This co-payment is the price difference between the cost of the branded product and reference price set by the HSE.
Reference pricing is being introduced gradually, one group of interchangeable medicines at a time. The first was introduced on the 1st of November and others will be introduced on an ongoing basis.
As always, if you have any questions about your prescription please speak to one of our pharmacists.