Know About Your Medicines:

Reference Pricing

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. Reference pricing is being introduced gradually, one group of interchangeable medicines at a time. An example of this reference pricing is the switch from the original branded product Lipitor to the generic Atorvastatin. It has been introduced to pass savings onto you our patient.

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 is usually cheaper. The reference price is generally the price of the cheapest generic available in the group and this is decided by the government.

In most cases switching from a branded product to a generic equivalent is seamless with no side effects experienced. The only change to the patient usually is a different box with different shaped or coloured tablets. 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.

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 of €2.50. This co-payment is the price difference between the cost of the branded product and reference price set by the HSE.

As always, if you have any questions about your prescription please speak to our team at Holland’s.

Medicines Review

Taking your medicines properly can have a major impact on how effective they will be. For example some tablets are best taken in the morning, like steroids, some at night, like statins, some best taken before food, like PPI’s, and some after food, like anti-inflammatories. You may be suffering from a side effect of a medicine potentially due to how you are taking it but confusing it with symptoms of another ailment. If you are taking a lot of medicines you may not know what each one is for.

A medicines use review will involve a confidential conversation between you and your pharmacist about your medication in a private consultation area at our pharmacy. The pharmacist is there to listen to any concerns or questions you have and help you get the best out of your medicines.

The pharmacist will start by going through all the medicines you take, finding out how you take your medicines, and if you have enough information about them.

The pharmacist will check how well you are getting on with your medicines, for example, if you can swallow your medicines easily, or if you are using your inhaler properly.

Together, you will discuss how you think your medicines are working. Not all your medicines may be necessary, the dose might need to be adjusted, or you may be experiencing certain side effects. The pharmacist may be able to suggest some changes to your medication which you can discuss with your GP.

The pharmacist will fill in a form, called the Medicine Review Action Plan, so you have a record of what was agreed during the meeting. A copy will also go to your GP to be put into your medical notes. You can also ask for a copy to be sent to another health professional involved in your care for example, your district nurse, or your carer.

Medicines Review will allow you to take control over and understand the medicines that you are taking.

But always remember you can have a quick talk to us at any time about your medication if you have any queries whatsoever were here to help you understand.

Generic Drugs and Medicines

You can save Money by Using Generic Drugs and Medicines.

You are welcome to discuss with us the savings that you could make by using generic rather than branded drugs and medicines.   The use of reference pricing and generics aims to pass the savings onto you and reduce the price of your prescriptions.

Generic drugs

  • Work in exactly the same way as the original branded drug.
  • Are manufactured to the same high standard and quality as the original branded drug.
  • Are almost always cheaper than the original branded drug.

Generic medicines do not only apply to prescriptions. You can make savings by using generic medicines for pain relief, hay fever, and cold sores.

You just need to tell to us or your GP that you want to make savings by using generic drugs and medicines.

A generic medicine is a copy of a branded medicine that contains exactly the same ingredient (or ingredients) that make the branded medicine work. These are called active ingredients. The generic medicines contain the same amount of active ingredients as the branded drug.

The generic medicine must be authorised by the Irish regulator, the Irish Medicines Board (IMB). Therefore the generic medicine must meet exactly the same quality and safety standards and have the same effect as the original branded medicine.

Generic drugs look different to the original branded products because trademark laws prohibit the generic medicine from looking exactly the same as the original medicine. If a generic medicine is placed beside the original medicine it may look very different. The generic versions of the original medicine may have different shapes, sizes, colours, flavours or combinations of inactive ingredients when compared to the original medicine. The generic medicine may also come in a different packet, box or bottle. However the IMB ensures that the generic medicines must work in the same way as the original medicine. If you ever have any doubts over a new generic that you have been given never hesitate to share them with us so we can help you feel better.

Generic medicines usually cost less than the original branded medicines because the company manufacturing the generic medicine did not spend money researching, developing and marketing the drug.

There are not generics for all drugs however because a company gets usually a 10 year patent after the development of a drug. During this time no company can produce a generic version of an original branded product.

Confused by generics?

Here is an informative video explaining exactly what generics are and how they benefit you.

Medicine Safety

Medicines should be stored out of direct sunlight, in a cool dry place. They also need to be stored out of reach of children.

Kitchens and bathrooms are not ideal for storing medicines as these rooms can be too warm or damp. Medicines need to be kept in their original containers also.

Labels are on the containers for tablets as they have instructions on storage, expiry dates as well as instructions for taking of the tablets.

Some medicines may need to be refrigerated. If you find that medication has been left out of the fridge by accident you should contact your pharmacist for advice on whether to dispose of the medication or use it within a certain time. Care should also always be taken when defrosting fridges and freezers that have medicines in them.

Protecting Children

Children like to copy adults. If your children see you taking tablets then it is likely that if they get the opportunity to take those tablets they will. Here are a few simple safety steps to improve medication safety in your home:

Keep all medicines out of your children’s reach and sight. Keep the medicines in a high shelf or locked drawer. Don’t forget that children are good climbers.

Ask your pharmacist to put your medicines in child resistant containers. Remember that most containers are child resistant but not child proof. They will eventually figure out how to open it if they are given enough opportunities.

Ensure that anyone caring for your children has their medication safely out of reach.