Dáil Éireann - Volume 400 - 19 June, 1990

Written Answers. - VHI Drugs Scheme.

216. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health if he will request the VHI to reinstate the outpatient drugs scheme, the abolition of which is causing severe hardship.

[165] Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The withdrawal of this scheme was an essential element of the recovery plan drawn up by the VHI to ensure their continued viability.

If VHI were requested to provide cover for routine medical costs, premiums would be too high to be affordable by most people. While the question of the reinstatement of the outpatient drugs scheme is primarily a matter for the VHI, it is difficult to envisage such an initiative being sustainable at the present time.

Assistance is, of course, available under the health boards drugs refund scheme which gives full recoupment for all expenditure in excess of £28 per month on prescribed drugs. I would also like to point out that the health boards may also give special consideration to persons who suffer undue hardship as a result of exceptional drug costs.

As stated in my reply of 6 June 1990 to Questions Nos. 18 and 29, Volume 399 of the Official Report, the introduction of a new community drug subsidisation scheme for persons with limited eligibility who have a regular and continuous need for expensive medication is currently the subject of ongoing discussions with the Irish Pharmaceutical Union.