People suffering from coeliac disease will no longer be able get gluten-free products free of charge under State schemes as a result of a previously unannounced HSE cutback.
According to the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), due to cuts by the HSE, many gluten-free products will no longer be reimbursed under State schemes, including medical card patients and for those on the long term illness scheme.
The IPU says this means that coeliac patients, who rely on gluten-free products in their everyday life, will no longer get support through these schemes for the purchase of these products.
Gluten free products include baking powder, breads, cornflakes, flour, muesli, pasta, pizza and porridge.
Coeliac patients have to follow gluten-free diets to avoid suffering from significant health problems.
The HSE, when announcing the controversial €130 million in cuts last week, did not mention that gluten-free products were to be removed from the list of free items.
It said at the time that 'certain products including' glucosamine, the obesity drug Orlistat, and Omega-3 Triglycerides to protect against heart disease, are to be removed from the list of reimbursable products.
The HSE said in deciding on which products to cut back, it chose to cut those where there was some doubt about their clinical efficacy.
A HSE spokesperson confirimed that gluten-free products would no longer be reimbursed under State drug schemes, along with the three other products identified last week.