Drug price differential is enough to make blood boil

Your consumer queries answered

Joe Roche’s drugs for his high blood pressure cost €32 a month in Dublin but only £5 in Newry. They are made in Cork

Joe Roche’s drugs for his high blood pressure cost €32 a month in Dublin but only £5 in Newry. They are made in Cork

Mon, Jun 24, 2013, 01:00

Last week Joe from Dublin contacted us with a story that is likely to cause your blood pressure to climb – at least that is the effect it had on us.

“I was prescribed a drug to treat high blood pressure called Coversyl, which I take daily. This is the brand name of this drug and costs €32 for 30 tablets (a month’s supply). The generic brand name of this drug is called Penderex and costs €27.

Both contain the ingredient Perindopril. The only difference is Coversyl is 10mg and Penderex is 8mg but it does exactly the same as the 10mg. After I made some phone calls to a pharmacist in Newry I discovered that 8mg Perindopril is £5 for 30.”

His wife is on a drug called Losec, 20mg of which she also takes daily. “This is the brand name of this drug. It contains the ingredient Omeprazole. Losec is €30 for 30, a month’s supply. The Newry price for 20mg Omeprazole is £5 for 30.

“We were paying €720 for these two drugs every year and could not claim under the drug refund scheme as you have to spend €140 a month to claim.

“I was told by a pharmacist in Newry that if I went to my doctor and asked her to write a prescription for 180 Perindopril (six months’ supply) and my wife did the same for her drug she could supply them at the prices quoted.

“So we both rang the doctor and got six-month prescriptions. I drove to Newry from Dublin ( it took about an hour and 30 minutes).

“I spent approximately €16 on diesel and €8 on tolls ( €4 if you live on the northside of Dublin). Drugs came to £60 (€70) so I reckon I saved approximately €266 (€532 in a full year).

“Here’s the thing and the real reason why I am writing to you. Both these drugs are made in Co Cork.

“You may publish this if you feel it will help. When are we going to put a stop to this rip-off.” When indeed?

If you eat a prawn, make it an Irish prawn

Last week we reviewed prawns and did not include any Irish options. This was noticed by Freda Fleming, probably because she owns Flemings Seafood in Rossaveal in Galway and, as a result, has an interest in such things. She decided to get in touch.

“We are a small business employing five people and my husband and myself. We have been in the fish business for over 25 years and have always peeled Irish prawns, which are all caught off the west coast by local boats landing into Galway and Aran Co-Op in Rossaveal.”

She says that last year they rebranded their prawns, which are all hand peeled, deveined and frozen from fresh.

“In the last year we have increased out number of outlets by 100 per cent and in the Dublin area alone we have increased the number of shops from four to 10 and hopefully we will continue to expand this year.”

We will certainly keep our eyes, um, peeled for them in the future.

Who ensures accuracy of airlines’ luggage gauges?

A reader called Bruce contacted us asking who is responsible for the accuracy of the carry-on hand luggage gauges/cages used by Ryanair at departure gates? “I had an incident with a Ryanair employee last week while flying to Liverpool,” he writes. He was told, his “hand luggage was too big” but “questioned it and asked to see calibration records for the gauge being used. They obviously couldn’t produce it so then I questioned the accuracy of the gauge and how they can prove that the dimensions of the gauge were indeed 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. As a result, I was told to carry on, no charge . Once home I decided to put in a formal complaint but I am having no luck as no agency seems to be responsible for regulating this area,” he writes. “The NSAI Legal Metrology Services says it is not responsible despite it falling into the category of ‘an instrument used for the purposes of trade’. With the LMS being the Government body responsible for compliance of instruments used in trade, why are these gauges different, and if the LMS is not responsible, who ensures the accuracy of these gauges?”

When we contact the airline all it would say was that it supplies the baggage gauges to each Ryanair airport. “They are standard in size and are not adjustable,” we were told.