The ongoing row between pharmacists and the HSE is likely to enter a second week after a meeting of the Irish Pharmacy Union's (IPU) executive yesterday.
In a move which was described as "disappointing" by the HSE, IPU president Liz Hoctor said the executive "regrettably did not believe that a resumption of normal pharmacy services was likely at this time".
Hoctor acknowledged that health minister Mary Harney had offered to meet with the union and confirmed that the IPU will make itself available for that meeting.
A spokesman for Health Minister Mary Harney said the minister "welcomed the move by the IPU to accept her offer to sit down and discuss the future of the pharmacy sector", adding that "the Minister would look forward to such discussions taking place at a time when the pharmacies with a contract with the HSE are providing the services required under that contract".
Meanwhile, the HSE is preparing to apply for more injunctions against other pharmacists around the country to force them to continue to provide medicine to the public, if this proves necessary, the Sunday Tribune understands.
It was granted an interim High Court injunction on Friday against 35 pharmacies in the Hickey group and Bradley group of pharmacies.
These cases are due to be heard again before the court tomorrow, after which time a decision may be taken to apply for further injunctions if the HSE deems this to be necessary.
Separately, one of the most vocal pharmacists involved in the IPU campaign is also a non-executive director of Uniphar, a leading wholesaler of drugs to pharmacies.
Richard Collis, a pharmacist based in Phibsborough, Dublin, has appeared in numerous print and broadcast interviews defending the decision by hundreds of pharmacists to stop supplying drugs under the state drug schemes this week.
But he is also listed in the companies office as a director of Uniphar, one of the state's largest drug wholesalers, which is owned by community-based pharmacists and has a turnover of €705m.
The row between the HSE and pharmacists centres on a reduction in the "wholesale mark-up" reimbursement price paid for delivery of drugs to community pharmacies from 17.66% to 10%, as well as changes in dispensing fees and other payments made to pharmacists.
Collis told the Sunday Tribune he could see how someone "could have a point" in questioning if there was a potential conflict of interest between his two roles, and it was something he had taken cognisance of in the past.
"The longer you are in a situation like that, the more it is a question of if you're in conflict. But I'm a pharmacist first and foremost," he said.
He had not felt it necessary to mention his directorship of Uniphar when doing interviews in his role as a community pharmacist.
"Any comments I have ever made have been as a pharmacist, and I don't think any comments that I have made would have conflicted with that… I'd never vocalise in terms of wholesaling issues," he said.