Prescriptions to be legally valid for up to 12 months under new rules

Patients can ask their pharmacies to extend prescriptions from six months to a maximum of one year

Prescriptions will now be legally valid for up to 12 months, under new changes announced by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

From Thursday, prescribers can write prescriptions for patients that are valid for up to 12 months.

From September, patients can ask their pharmacists to extend prescriptions from six months to a maximum of 12 months, if they have a prescription dated March 1st, 2024, or later.

The new measures seek to provide flexibility for patients, reduce the demand on primary care services and utilise the expertise of pharmacists to improve the provision of healthcare.


It could also reduce costs for patients who do not receive free GP care via a GP visit card or a medical card.

The change has been implemented following the Minister’s acceptance of a recommendation from the expert taskforce to support the expansion of the role of pharmacists.

It is the first recommendation of the Taskforce, which was established in July 2023, and which continues to operate.

Certain medications are excluded from prescription extension and patients are advised that doctors and pharmacists will at all times use their clinical judgement in deciding the suitable duration of prescriptions.

Speaking about the change, Mr Donnelly encouraged people to talk to their GP or other prescriber at their next appointment to see if they are suitable for extended prescriptions.

“Pharmacists also have a very important role to play, and I’m pleased that by giving pharmacists authority to extend prescriptions from six to 12 months, subject to their professional judgement, we are recognising their expertise and their valued contribution to healthcare in Ireland,” he said.

“I want to thank the expert taskforce members for their work, and I look forward to receiving further recommendations that will enhance pharmacists’ scope of practice for the benefit of all.”

Dr Pat O’Mahony, chair of the expert taskforce, said the work is “advancing well” and they look forward to delivering further recommendations.

“Implementation of this first recommendation is a very welcome step that facilitates patients and relieves some pressure from our very busy GP practices,” he said.

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Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times