NHS reviewing claims that pharmacy overcharged for prescription

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NHS reviewing claims that pharmacy overcharged for prescription

The NHS has said it is reviewing claims that a North London pharmacy told a patient to pay more than the standard £9.35 prescription charge if they wished to collect their medicine.

Hampstead resident John Davies told local newspaper Ham & High that after having his atenolol script partly fulfilled by Keats Pharmacy, he returned some time later to collect the rest of his medication but was told by a staff member that because the drug was being dispensed at a loss he had to pay extra.

Mr Davies described this as an inappropriate “ultimatum,” telling the paper: “I was unwilling to do that and she said it would not be viable for her to order the drug.

“That’s what upset me. I was owed the remainder of the prescription but she wouldn’t issue it.”

A spokesperson for the NHS in London said: "Pharmacies are not permitted to charge more than the current prescription charge applicable for an item or items. 

“This issue is being reviewed in accordance with relevant National Health Service Regulations, and further action will be taken if required."

When approached by Pharmacy Network News, Keats Pharmacy practice manager David Harvey explained that when patients present with a script on which the pharmacy stands to make a loss against current drug tariff prices, staff will sometimes ask the patient to wait until the next price concessions are announced later in the month, or in some cases ask them “if they would like to pay the difference between loss and break-even on the NHS drug tariff”.

However, the pharmacy will always make sure that the patient has adequate supplies and will make an “interim supply” if the medication is urgently needed, he said.

“These situations only occur occasionally and even then the medications are often out of stock at the wholesalers,” Mr Harvey added. 

Mr Harvey told Ham & High that “many patients” are “happy to pay the difference” when the pharmacy explains its financial position to them.

He said he welcomed the NHS investigation and hoped it would “focus attention on the inoperability of their reimbursement mechanisms”.

The GPhC told PNN: “There is a set charge per item prescribed and supplied via NHS prescription unless the item is free of charge such as the oral contraceptive pill. The charge, currently £9.35 per item, is payable to the pharmacy supplying the item(s) unless the person has an exemption or pre-payment certificate.

“The GPhC dealt with a concern that was raised directly with us, and the matter has since been closed. However, we are keeping a record of the concern, which means it can be considered during future inspection visits or in relation to future concerns.”

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