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Labour MSP to be challenged on accusations that ‘methadone millionaire’ chemists profit from Scots drug problems

Chemist industry have reacted angrily to claims by Labour MSP Jenny Marra. Picture: PA

Chemist industry have reacted angrily to claims by Labour MSP Jenny Marra. Picture: PA

  • by SCOTT MACNAB
 

A LABOUR MSP is to face a grilling from pharmacy industry leaders later today after controversial claims they are profiting on the back of Scotland’s drug addiction problems.

• Labour MSP Jenny Marra sparks row with pharmacy industry after branding chemists “methadone millionaires”

• Ms Marra to meet with Royal Pharmaceutical Society later today

North-East MSP Jenny Marra branded pharmacists “methadone millionaires” over their role in dispensing the heroin substitute which is used to get addicts off the drug.

Ms Marra will be joined by Labour leader Johann Lamont and party justice spokesman Lewis Macdonald when she meets with heads of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society today in Edinburgh.

A spokesman for the RPS said: “We think that the comments were unfair and not accurate and we’re looking for them to acknowledge that that was the case.

“It was uncalled for and our members were very disappointed and angry to read this. We’ll be looking for a retraction at least.”

Ms Marra’s comments came after figures obtained by Labour showed that £36 million of public money is spent each year funding the methadone programme, and she claimed some pharmacies were being paid up to 42 per cent above the base rate to administer the methadone programme.

“It is unacceptable that chemists in some parts of Scotland make significant amounts of money from the suffering that drug addiction causes in our communities,” Labour’s community safety spokeswoman claimed ahead of a Holyrood debate on the issue earlier this month.

Nationalists said Ms Marra will now have the explain herself.

Mark McDonald, a member of the Health and Sport Committee, said: “It was extremely disappointing to see Jenny Marra referring to pharmacists this way, especially given that these health professionals are committed to doing their job and working to achieve the objectives set by MSPs from all parties.”

Ms Marra said ahead of the meeting: “I look forward to meeting with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society today and hearing their views. I hope we will have a productive meeting as Labour is committed to taking the challenge of drugs in our community seriously.”

 

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