Prescription charges in Northern Ireland are being abolished from today.

Since 2008, prescriptions have cost £3 and prior to that the cost was £6.85.

Stormont Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said the move marked 'an end to the tax on illness'.

He said the cost of abolishing the prescription charges would be met from within existing health budgets and would not affect any existing health services in Northern Ireland.

In relation to the introduction of a 50c charge per prescription for medical card holders in the Republic and those on the Long Term Illness Scheme, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said 'the full details of the proposed prescription charges are being finalised and will be set out in new legislation, which is required to give effect to their introduction.

'This new legislation will be brought forward in the next Dáil session.'