The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has set out five key principles to enable a fairer system when it comes to price concessions.
These principles form part of the PSNC’s ongoing discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on changing the system for setting price concessions.
Following its most recent meeting, held on 9–10 January 2018, the PSNC revealed it was seeking a system that was more responsive to price rises, to ensure that community pharmacy contractors did not carry unreasonable costs on behalf of the NHS.
In a statement published on the PSNC website on 30 January 2018, it said that the numbers of products and levels of price increases since summer 2017 had caused a substantial increase in the NHS drugs bill and that it continued to cause considerable problems for contractors, who were already under huge pressures following government cuts to funding and recovery of excess margin earned in previous years.
Figures from Oxford University’s OpenPrescribing website suggest that price concessions had cost the NHS £285m in the nine months to December 2017.
The five principles laid out by the PSNC are that: community pharmacy contractors must not be the victims of adverse events or activity further up the supply chain; any pricing system must balance fairly contractors’ duty to supply with a reasonable purchase risk; the PSNC must be able to provide data about price rises, but accepts that DHSC will want to verify this and that this leads to some period of uncertainty over pricing; any data used to set prices must relate to the period for which a concession is given; and the PSNC must be able to challenge proposed price concessions.
Currently, the PSNC makes its claim for price concessions to the DHSC which then verifies them using data collected from manufacturers and wholesalers. If it considers it to be appropriate, the DHSC will then set a concession price.
“The PSNC is continuing to press for improvements to the pricing concessions system,” said Mike Dent, director of pharmacy finance at the PSNC.
”We know that shortages and pricing continue to cause significant issues for many community pharmacies and that they are working extremely hard to ensure that patients have access to medicines when they need them.”
The list of price concessions for January 2018, published on 29 January 2018, was much shorter than the lists from November and December 2017, although a PSNC spokesperson cautioned that January’s list may still be added to.
Dent said: ”The PSNC is hoping to see a reduction in the number of lines affected by shortage and pricing issues, but the medicines market is extremely complex, making it impossible to predict whether this trend will continue.”