PSNC: Government should intervene to limit medicine prices
Exclusive: The Government should intervene to try and limit the prices contractors pay for medicines, a PSNC spokesperson has told Pharmacy Network News.
In conversation with PNN last week, PSNC reimbursement manager Suraj Shah said the Department of Health and Social Care should be making greater use of legal powers it gained in 2018, commenting: “With the supply situation as it is, DHSC should be supporting pharmacies in keeping medicine prices at appropriate levels, saving money for the NHS.”
Laws were passed in 2018 giving the Government powers to set price control determinations and demand information from manufacturers and distributors regarding their business costs – but according to a recent annual report these powers have not yet been used.
‘Desperate situation’ for contractors
Mr Shah said price rises and availability issues are forcing contractors to spend more time sourcing medicines while battling cash flow uncertainties, citing aripiprazole and temazepam as two of the worst affected lines at present.
The ongoing impact of Brexit and Covid, as well as “increases in many manufacturing and distribution costs,” are all factors contributing to the present market turbulence, he said, adding that along with business costs and workload pressures this is creating a “desperate situation” for contractors of all sizes.
He added: “In the meantime, drug tariff pricing has remained low for a long time. The Category M prices are set quarterly using lagged data, meaning that the current inflationary pressures are not reflected in the Category M reimbursement prices.”
More imposed lines
He said that while the negotiator “works hard to push for a price that we feel is appropriate for contractors,” the number of instances where price agreements cannot be reached is rising, leading to the Government “imposing” more concessionary prices.
“The number of imposed lines is nearly five times higher now than what we saw around the same time last year,” said Mr Shah, adding that the PSNC wants the department to change its processes “so that prices are more responsive to changes in the market” and agreements reached “as soon as possible”.
“PSNC is also seeking recognition – and mitigation – of the impact the uncertainty of reimbursement prices is having on pharmacy teams.
“Community pharmacies need to be funded fairly for the time and effort that goes into making sure patients can access medicines in a timely manner.”