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Chemists will give out fewer drugs

Health minister wants system like UK where patients get the medicine they need rather than a box-full

PATIENTS with a prescription could soon get only the amount of drugs that they need under plans to cut health costs.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine said the average person had 1.5kg of unused drugs in their cupboards as chemists would give a box of 30 tablets when the prescription lasted for only a week. She wanted to try out a method that is already in use in Britain, the US and elsewhere and where chemists give only the dose required.

This year the social security system has a €16.1billion hole in its budget after last year when it hit €17.5bn and Ms Touraine said it would have hit €21bn next year if she had not made cuts. Now she plans more cuts to bring it down to €13bn in 2014.

The cuts will include measure to reduce pharmaceutical use, increase use of generic drugs and reduce waste. She said using more generic medications could cut the state drug bill by nearly €1bn.

Mr Touraine pointed to the successful use of unit drug dispensation in the UK for the past said that people having unused medication in their cupboards was a waste of money and a danger as it encouraged them to self-medicate instead of going to the doctor.

An experiment in certain regions will see chemists filling exactly the prescription demanded by the doctor, with antibiotics being the first to change.

Another target of the cuts is hospital costs with a move to make more use of ambulatory care centres where patients do not need an overnight stay after minor surgery. This could save €440million.

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