Government reforms of Category M reimbursement risk ‘exacerbating’ drug shortages, says PSNC

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The government risks making drugs shortages worse with its generics reimbursement reforms, unless the proposals are rolled out gradually, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said in its official response to a government consultation.

In July 2019, the Department of Health and Social Care proposed that community pharmacists recoup less money on generics for which a branded version exists and more money from all other Category M drugs.

In its response, the PSNC said the proposals run “a risk of exacerbating problems around drug availability and shortages”, adding that reforms “would need to be made gradually and would need to be carefully monitored to ensure any unintended or detrimental effects are identified”.

The PSNC added that a reduction of the margin on some Category M products “should not increase risk of inequality in distribution of margin amongst contractors” and “should not result in dispensing at a loss for those items”. It said that instead of implementing the proposals, “now would be an appropriate time to revisit discussions regarding the introduction of generic substitution”.

In cases where Category M margins are reduced, the PSNC said the government should consider mitigating losses “by either adding these products to the list of drugs for which discount is not deducted or by applying a reduced level of discount deduction to these products”.

The aim of the consultation, which closes on 17 September 2019, is to ensure that pharmacy contractors are receiving equitable access to the medicines margin.

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, September 2019, Vol 303, No 7929;303(7929):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20207063