The Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland has approached the High Court to force protesting pharmacists to fall in line, in a bid to restore the disrupted supply of medicines.
The High Court has ordered 35 protesting pharmacies – owned by the Hickey and Bradley chains – to continue to supply drugs as per the state community drugs scheme.
The HSE claimed that pharmacies owned by these two chains did not serve the 30-day notice period before withdrawing from the community drugs scheme, violating state rules.
The injunction comes seven days into the strike, with several pharmacies running out of stocks and risking patients’ safety.
Nearly 500 pharmacists have withdrawn or terminated their state contracts, but over 1,100 pharmacies still continue to function under the state scheme.
The Irish Pharmacies Union is protesting against the Government’s decision to cut fees to save an annual 133 million euros in drugs costs.
While the IPU has called the move unhelpful, health minister Mary Harney has supported the legal proceedings to resolve the row. The court will hear the case this week.
Although both sides have agreed to talks, Ms Harney maintained that the cut back in fees was not open for discussion.
Copyright Press Association 2009