Prescription medicines price survey


Update 2nd April 2013

On the 28th March 2013, questions were raised about the accuracy of a small number of quotes received from pharmacies in the NCA’s prescription medicine survey. The NCA contacted the pharmacies who had provided the information in order to seek clarification in relation to the following:

Inegy Tabs 10/20 Mg (28 pack) - Quote originally given to the NCA: €51.42. On the 28th March an identical quote was again given to the NCA.  

Losec Mups 20 Mg (28 pack) - Quote given: €49.69. On the 28th March an identical quote was again given to the NCA.  

Nexium Gastro Resistant Tabs 20 Mg (28 pack) - Quote given: €22.81. On 28thMarch the pharmacist who supplied this quote stated that an error was made and that the pharmacy does not sell this product, an exact alternative quote was not given.

Seretide Evohaler 250 Mcg (1) Quote given: €71.60. This quote was not correct. The pharmacist stated that a quote pertaining to a different product had been included in the return supplied to the NCA; an alternative quote of €104.26 was provided on the 28th March. The NCA notes that a number of different pharmacists provided quotes of approximately €74 for this product.

Having received this new information the NCA is happy to provide this clarification but notes that neither the findings nor the implications of the survey (of over 1,750 quotes) are materially affected. The NCA would also point out that all price quotations in the survey were as provided by the participating pharmacists themselves. These quotes could not be checked online or via in-store visits, as the NCA would do in other sectors, as there is no price display and no ability to check till receipts against stated prices as a valid prescription would be needed to make a purchase.

For its latest price study, the National Consumer Agency undertook a nationwide survey of pharmacists to determine the prices charged to private customers for a number of common prescription medicines.

The NCA contacted 132 pharmacy stores and information was received from 45, a response rate of 34%. The pricing information requested related to the final cost to a first time private customer for each of the specific medicines, purchased individually on prescription. All prices were correct as of 6th February 2013.

The key findings of the study include:

  • Significant variations in prices of prescription medicines were found both nationally and in local urban areas. At a national level the average percentage price variation was found to be 56%.
  • The largest percentage variation in price for a single prescription medicine within an area was found in Waterford, 122% (or €27.26), for the product "Losec Mups 20 Mg (28)". The second highest percentage price variation within a region was found in Dublin at 112% (or €22.37), for the product "Zoton Fastab Tabs 30 Mg (28)".
  • In Dublin across the 39 products surveyed, the minimum price variation for any individual product was found to be 34%.
  • When the average prices of all 39 products were summed, Dublin was found to be the most expensive area surveyed at 4.4% above the national average. Galway was the least expensive with average prices 4.5% less than the national average.
  • In relation to dispensing fees it was found that different policies apply across the pharmacies, from a standard dispensing fee to the dispensing fee varying with the price of the prescription medicines and in some instances a dispensing fee is not charged. Dispensing fees ranged from €3.15 to €7.00.




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