The government has issued its final list of concessionary drug prices for November 2017, which has been published in time to be considered alongside November’s payment in the usual way.
But the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiation Committee (PSNC) has warned that unless the system for recompensing pharmacies for expensive drugs is improved, the community pharmacy sector could be “pushed beyond breaking point”.
The list of concessionary prices agreed for November includes 53 new ones. The PSNC originally asked for 97 concessionary prices to be granted for November, but by the end of the month only 38 had been agreed.
The PSNC said some of the concessions it asked for had still not been agreed, and that some of the prices the Department of Health (DH) said it would pay were lower than the PSNC had asked for.
Concessionary prices are normally agreed before the end of the month to which they apply, and PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said the delay in issuing November’s concessionary prices had caused “considerable stress to contractors, who are already under massive pressure, both trying to source medicines for patients and following government cuts to funding”.
The original delay in agreeing the concessionary prices led Ian Strachan, chair of the National Pharmacy Association, to say that November 2017 had been the worst for community pharmacy since he qualified, more than 30 years ago.
Sharpe said the PSNC was “pleased that further November prices have finally been issued, although many are lower than we had sought and some concessions that we had applied for have not been granted”. She said she hoped that the DH would respond to the December concessionary price requests “in a more timely manner”.
She added: “Volatility in the generics market means that the current pricing system is not working for contractors. PSNC will continue to press for improvements.
“We will also continue to highlight the very hard work being done by community pharmacy teams to ensure that patients can access the medicines they need, and to warn of the consequences should the sector be pushed beyond breaking point.”
Concessionary prices for December are still under discussion.