Spike in price concessions prompts concern over generic medicine supply issues

Exclusive: As the number of price concessions for generic drugs soared in January 2022, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committees has raised concerns with the government over supply issues.
Mike Dent, director of pharmacy funding at the PSNC

Medicine supply issues are behind a rise in generic medicines prices, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has told The Pharmaceutical Journal.

It attributed the supply issues to COVID-19-related staff absences, changes in trading post-Brexit and increases in oil prices.

“We are concerned to see that supply issues are on the rise,” said Mike Dent, director of pharmacy funding at the PSNC.

“Contractors are reporting problems obtaining more and more drugs, with a number of complex factors at play in the supply chain once again.”

Dent added that the PSNC was raising these concerns with the Department of Health and Social Care and would continue to identify to them where it believed price concessions or serious shortage protocols may be required. 

“We know pharmacy teams are working hard to do all they can for their patients, and this is just adding to the mounting workload that they are facing,” said Dent.

The number of price concessions for generic drugs granted by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), has more than doubled in the first month of 2022, compared with 2021.

In the final price concessions update, published on 2 February for January 2022, more than 100 drugs were listed compared with 40 issued in January 2021.

Price concessions are identified after the PSNC monitors monthly price lists and price change notifications from mainline wholesalers, while simultaneously gathering information via reports from contractors. This information is then used to submit applications for price concessions, which are intended to help cover the costs when pharmacies are unable to source a medicine at drug tariff price, as and when required.

On 4 February 2022, the PSNC detailed adjusted prices for some drugs where requests for a price concession were later withdrawn after confirmation from the DHSC that, owing to the price change mechanism — which was introduced to ensure that community pharmacy teams were appropriately reimbursed for the drugs they dispense — the reimbursement prices had been increased for these products during January 2022.

Products where the price had been adjusted include sugar-free metformin 1,000mg/5mL oral solution, which was listed as having a drug tariff price of £24, but was later corrected to the reimbursement price of £80.

Read more: Government trialling new method of setting price concessions

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, February 2022, Vol 308, No 7958;308(7958)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2022.1.127814

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