Generic supply issues: October 2017

Generic supply issues: October 2017

October 6, 2017

PSNC is aware of the very great difficulties that community pharmacy contractors are still having sourcing a large number of products, with both shortage and pricing issues playing a part. This is continuing to have a huge impact on workload and a catastrophic impact on cashflow.

PSNC has written to the pharmacy minister, Steve Brine MP, seeking urgent intervention to offer some relief for contractors as the major shortage and pricing issues persist. We have stressed our concern for the ability of some pharmacies to survive the cashflow crisis, and warned of the disastrous impact this could have on patients and other NHS services as we go into the winter period.

PSNC is also continuing to stress to the Department of Health the seriousness of the current situation, and we are seeking price concessions for October.

In September an extraordinary number of price concessions were granted. PSNC was particularly concerned by the length of time it took to reach agreement on many of the concession prices.

We are also now extremely worried about contractors’ ability to manage the cashflow crisis through November, when the full impact of August’s Category M price reductions will be felt. Contractors can read more information about this here, and are advised to seek professional advice, from their accountant in the first instance.

During this period, please do continue to report generic issues using the generic shortages form which can be found here. We have updated the form this month to try to make it easier to complete.

These reports form a very important basis on which price concessions are agreed and we would like to thank those contractors who have already taken the time to fill in the form. Contractors might want to discuss wider supply issues with their PSNC Regional Representatives.

As always, as soon as any price concessions are agreed, the website will be updated and an email alert will be sent to all of our email newsletter subscribers. To sign up to the newsletter, please visit

PSNC Member and independent community pharmacy contractor Mark Burdon said:

“Like all community pharmacy contractors, those of us on PSNC remain deeply frustrated and alarmed by the current medicines supply situation.

The issues have been going on for some time now, and they are continuing to have a drastic impact on our workload and cashflow. This will only worsen as the full impact of the reductions to Category M prices becomes apparent from our November 1st payments onwards, and we are extremely concerned about contractors’ ability to manage this.

It is vital for both patients and the NHS that pharmacies are able to supply patients with the medicines they need, but our ability to do this is being compromised. PSNC is continuing to stress this to the Department of Health and the Minister, pressing for urgent intervention to offer some relief for contractors and to ensure the resilience of the supply chain and the provision of services to patients.”

PSNC Chief Executive Sue Sharpe said:

“Pharmacies are continuing to work extremely hard to source medicine supplies and ensure they meet patients’ needs. This is a big additional work pressure at a time when many pharmacies are struggling to survive punishing cuts in NHS funding.

The impact of reductions in Category M prices will take full effect from November, and we are concerned for the ability of small pharmacies, which have been particularly badly hit by the government funding cuts, to survive the combined pressures. We have stressed this to the Department of Health and Minister, explaining the need for urgent intervention to ensure that pharmacies can manage the cashflow crisis. The consequences for patients and the NHS if they cannot will be catastrophic.

We know that this topic will be debated in the House of Lords later this month, and we will continue to work with the other pharmacy organisations and Local Pharmaceutical Committees (LPCs) to ensure that all politicians and the Government understand the seriousness of the situation and the very great risks if pharmacy services are reduced.”

The price concession process

Unfortunately, price concessions only apply to the month in which they are granted and the Department of Health (DH) requires PSNC to apply/re-apply for concessions on a monthly basis.

After each new monthly application, DH will undertake checks before making a decision. In some cases, there is discussion between PSNC and the Department of Health on an individual product’s circumstances; this can take time. PSNC would like to see changes to the arrangements that would allow contractors to have certainty over what they will be reimbursed, much earlier in the month, a point which we have raised with DH on many occasions.

Publicly available information

PSNC cannot provide details of generic products that are suspected of being affected by generic supply problems until concessions are granted. This is extremely frustrating, but is necessary in order to avoid market manipulation and potentially worsening any shortage situations.

We are also prevented from directing contractors to specific suppliers who may have stock at a lower price by competition law.

Concession announcements

Negotiations have begun regarding a number of products for October. The agreed list of price concessions will be shown on this page or you can sign up here to receive price concession alerts and updates by email.

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