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Boost in southern medicines trade

A Newry pharmacy is witnessing a spike in cross-border trade for preion medicines following publication of a survey that highlights the gulf in prices between north and south. Since an ‘Irish Independent’ survey findings were published McKeever’s Chemists referenced in the study has noted a sharp rise in the account of southern customers keen on making big savings. The survey which carried out price comparisons on generic drugs highlighted that in some cases residents in the south are paying up to seven times more for popular medicines and that substantial savings of up to 400 Euro could be made on annual prescription for a cholesterol lowering drug. The survey highlighted the discrepancy in the prices of Atarovastatinn for those with high cholesterol on both sides of the border with a month’s supply available here for around £5 compared to as much as 41.59 Euro in the Republic. Price differences on everyday drugs such as low dosage aspirin which can be taken to reduce heart attack risk and is not available for over the council purchase in the south show that it can be purchased here for around a quarter of the southern price. Omeprazole a commonly prescribed stomach medication is also about four times more expensive south of the border. With these significant savings businesses in Newry are sure to feel the knock-on effect of more visitors to the city in line with the new campaign to attract shoppers whilst attempts to lower prices in the south are likely to have minimal immediate impact on this burgeoning trade. The Health Service Executive (HSE) in the Republic is introducing measures to lower the price of generic drugs though in the case of Atorvastatin it will still cost around quadruple the amount to purchase in any southern pharmacy. The stronger generic tradition in the north with 80 per cent usage compared to 18 per cent in the south keeps prices lower here though allowances for reference pricing and generic substitution which allow generic medicines to be prescribed instead of a higher price brand drug have been introduced. However the cross border exodus for medicines appears to continue unabated with McKeever’s Chemist experiencing n ongoing upsurge in sales in all their pharmacies with customers travelling to fill prescriptions and online through their website. Catherine King pharmacy manager at McKeever’s said they have seen a major increase in patients from the Republic of Ireland wishing to get their prescriptions dispensed with them “especially over recent times with increased awareness of the cost savings. In particular those patients who are prescribed generic medicines see huge savings in comparison to the Republic,” she said. “There are significant differences in price between branded and generic medicines as in the north the vast majority of medicines are prescribed generically. We have built up a good customer base with our patients from the Republic of Ireland and with repeat business they offer great benefit to the local economy in Newry.


Newry Reporter

4th September 2013