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Pharmacists urged to resume methadone handouts

The Irish Pharmaceutical Union (IPU) has urged its members to resume providing methadone treatment to recovering drug addicts.

The call comes a week after more than 140 chemists across Dublin and Wicklow decided to stop dispensing the narcotic substitute as part of an ongoing row with health chiefs over the price of drugs.

IPU president Michael Guckian called on pharmacists to reconsider their stance because he believed negotiations on the issue would begin shortly.

The decision follows the intervention of negotiator Bill Shipsey, who is chairing talks between Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) and the IPU, in a bid to resolve the dispute.

Mr Shipsey said on Friday that if the methadone service was resumed, discussions between both parties could take place.

Mr Guckian said: “Much has been written and said about the methadone issue over the past week.

“However, it appears to have slipped people’s minds that the reason this scheme is administered through pharmacies is that communities did not want methadone clinics in their areas.

“It was pharmacists who stepped into that breach and who have successfully delivered the scheme ever since.”

The HSE incurred the wrath of the IPU last month after it revealed that it was to slash the price it paid for drugs, leading to savings of some £69m a year.

The IPU claims the changes could lead to the closure of pharmacies in rural and marginalised locations throughout the state.

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Irish Pharmaceutical Union

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