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HSE & IPU must resolve impending methadone dispensing crisis - Ó Snodaigh

11 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Dublin TD and Community Safety Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has welcomed today’s informal talks between the HSE and Irish Pharmacists Union (IPU) to discuss the ongoing dispute over the HSE’s proposed claw back scheme which will reduce payments to pharmacies dispensing scripts to GMS patients.


Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:


“I welcome today’s informal talks between the HSE and IPU however there is an urgent need for Monday’s threatened action by pharmacies to stop dispensing methadone to be withdrawn. If the action is withdrawn it is incumbent on the IPU to ensure its members are informed so that pharmacies can allay the anxieties of their methadone clients.


“The HSE for its part needs to commit to engaging in a continuous process with the IPU that will address the hardship on pharmacies whose clients’ base is heavily reliant on the medical card scheme.


“In the event the withdrawal of services proceeds on Monday Local Drug Taskforces, clinics and related agencies will put in place contingency plans to deliver a continuation of methadone treatments to the many thousands of patients involved.


“However these plans cannot and will not substitute for the pharmacies service. Dispensing of the medication through a pharmacy is central part of a methadone programme as it facilitates a regular working life. Attending clinics will not be conducive to patients’ programme of treatment.


“Methadone patients remain vulnerable to relapses therefore placing them in clinics for periods of time with addicts who may be predatory or in the early stages of their own treatment will in many cases be detrimental.


“There are approximately 8,500 methadone patients throughout the country, with 5,000 of these in Dublin. It is just simply wrong that such a vulnerable group in society is to bear the full brunt of this dispute.” CRÍOCH



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