Irish Medicines Formulary (IMF)


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Reference Pricing and Generic Substitution in Ireland

A proportion of patients in Ireland who obtain Medical Cards based on their income and/or other clinically based criteria are granted free healthcare. In addition to free GP consultations, they receive prescribed medicines free of charge (paid for by the State under the General Medicines Scheme, GMS). The State, via an agency called the Primary Care Reimbursement Service, PCRS, pays the community pharmacist for approved prescription medicines supplied to such patients.

In 2013, the government introduced legislation that allows pharmacists, for certain drugs, to substitute generic medicines for branded versions (“Interchangeability” or “Generic Substitution”).

Also introduced was the practice of Reference Pricing for certain medicines whereby the state’s agency responsible for managing the health service, the Health Service Executive, HSE, sets a defined maximum price it will reimburse pharmacists for certain drugs dispensed to medical card holders. If a medical card patient wants the original brand of the medicines prescribed, the patient will have to pay the difference between the reference price and the interchangeable medicine.

IMF includes all details of both Interchangeability and Reference Pricing.