New levy on prescriptions
FROM today, medical card holders will now have to pay 50 cent per item on their prescription.
The new charge could help raise €24m a year.
Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) president Darragh O'Loughlin has expressed his concern for vulnerable members of society.
"We would call on the Minister for Health and Children to exempt certain patient groups from paying the levy," he said.
The prescription charge applies to almost all of the State's 1.5 million medical card holders.