Sunscreen can now be prescribed for renal transplant patients
For the first time, the cost of certain sunscreen products is now being reimbursed, when prescribed to those who have had renal (kidney) transplants and to immunosuppressed patients taking a particular medicine.
Following a kidney transplant, immunosuppressant medications are prescribed to reduce the body’s ability to reject a transplanted organ. However, these essential medicines also increase the skin’s susceptibility to harmful UV radiation from the sun, making immunosuppressed patients more vulnerable to skin cancer.
Last year, the Irish Skin Foundation (ISF) called on the HSE to allow doctors to prescribe sunscreen for vulnerable patient groups, like transplant patients, to allow them to offset the high cost of creams essential for protecting their skin.
Consultant Dermatologist Dr Patrick Ormond said,
“I am delighted that immunocompromised patients can now access assistance in the use of sun protection factors. People who are immunocompromised are more likely to develop skin cancers. Sun protection factors, when used as part of the overall strategy to reduce solar radiation, are an important part of empowering a person to look after their own skin health. Prevention is always better than cure”.
The ISF’s David McMahon said that the move was a very positive sign that the HSE is willing to look at the specific needs of particularly vulnerable patient groups and to find solutions where high out-of-pocket cost presents a barrier to protecting the skin against cancer.
Sunscreen products are now covered for patients with renal transplants and who are immunosuppressed (i.e. those taking azathioprine) under Discretionary Hardship Arrangements for patients with GMS eligibility, and under the DPS scheme for other patients. Items that are covered are generally SPF 50+ products. Items must be prescribed by a consultant (i.e. written it on a prescription for patients to allow the pharmacy to apply for payment).
About the Irish Skin Foundation
The Irish Skin Foundation (ISF) is a national charity with a mission to support people with skin conditions. We operate a Helpline, provide up-to-date specialist guidance, run events, awareness campaigns and engage in advocacy for people with skin conditions.
The ISF was established by the CDSCHC (City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital Charity) following the sale of the voluntary hospital on Hume Street, which had provided care and treatment to people with skin disease for almost a century from 1911-2006.