Dáil Éireann - Volume 560 - 30 January, 2003

Written Answers. - Drugs Payment Scheme.

  67. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children if his Department will allow a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 who has chronic fatigue syndrome to claim minerals, vitamins and supplements against the drug refund scheme. [2210/03]

  Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): I presume the Deputy is referring to the drugs payment scheme which replaced the drugs refund scheme and the drugs cost subsidisation scheme in 1999. A common list of reimbursable medicines was introduced for the general medical services scheme, GMS, and the drug payment scheme, DPS. This list ensures equity between the GMS and DPS in relation to the range of medicines paid for by the State under both schemes. The common list is subject to ongoing review and amendment on a monthly basis, as new products become available and deletions are notified.

[726]  For any item to be included in the common list, it must comply with a published list of criteria. These include authorisation status where appropriate, price and, in certain cases, the intended use of the product. In addition, the product should ordinarily be supplied to the public only by medical prescription and should not be advertised or promoted to the public. As minerals, vitamins and supplements are generally available without a medical prescription and are advertised to the public, they do not qualify for inclusion in the common list.

  People who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. Eligibility for a medical card is solely a matter for the chief executive officer of the relevant health board to decide. In determining eligibility, the chief executive officer has regard to the applicant's financial circumstances. Health boards use income guidelines to assist in determining eligibility. However, where a person's income exceeds the guidelines, a medical card may be awarded if the chief executive officer considers that the person's medical needs or other circumstances would justify this. Medical cards may also be issued to individual family members on this basis.