MPs publish report on generic medicine price increases

MPs publish report on generic medicine price increases

October 12, 2018

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has today published a report of its investigation into price increases for generic medicines, calling on the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to make plans to help address the impact of these price rises on the NHS by the end of the year.

The unexpected increase in prices of certain generic medicines last year was first investigated by the National Audit Office, and then by the PAC, which is a cross-party group of MPs who scrutinise the value for money of public spending. The Committee held an inquiry to which PSNC gave both written and oral evidence. PSNC highlighted the impact that the generic shortages and price rises were having on community pharmacies, as well as describing all the work that pharmacy teams had done to ensure that no patients were harmed.

The PAC’s report on its inquiry states that the NHS had to spend additional time, money and effort to source medicines affected by price rises in 2017, noting “the extra efforts that pharmacies had to make to get medicines that were in short supply”.

The report references the new powers available to DHSC to collect information about the generics market (introduced as part of the Health Service Products (Provision and Disclosure of Information) Regulations) and the MPs have asked the Department to set out what actions it will be able to take to address future price rises and what skills and capacity it needs to put in place to make use of the new powers.

The Department has also been asked to set out its plans for maintaining the supply of medicines both before and after Brexit, and the MPs recommended that DHSC and NHS England should establish clear and timely information flows about generics price or supply issues, including with local commissioners and clinicians.

PSNC has been in close contact with DHSC to monitor the generics pricing situation and to ensure that officials are aware of the impact on community pharmacies.

Since the beginning of 2018 we have been seeking a fairer concessions system that is more responsive to price rises to ensure that community pharmacy contractors do not carry unreasonable costs on behalf of the NHS.  PSNC continues to work with DHSC to try and reduce the burden that generic medicine shortages place on community pharmacies.

Read PSNC’s written submission to the Public Accounts Committee

Read the transcript of the evidence session on July 4th (or watch a video of the evidence session here)

The inquiry report by the PAC recommends that DHSC:

  • Share its plan for maintaining the supply of medicines pre- and post-Brexit;
  • Establish clear and timely information flows between itself, NHS England and local bodies to identify and inform about generic medicine supply and/or pricing issues;
  • Update its guidance to CCGs on contingency planning to mitigate the financial impact of unforeseen price increases;
  • Set out the full range of actions it can take to addresses rises in the price of generic medicines, and what skills and capacity it has put in place to use its new powers; and
  • Ensure that the first annual review of the Health Service Products (Provision and Disclosure of Information) Regulations includes an assessment of how well the provisions are working.

Read the PAC’s report on price increases for generic medicines in full.

Mark Burdon, an independent community pharmacy contractor and PSNC Regional Representative for the North East and Cumbria, said:

“PSNC was pleased to assist the PAC in this inquiry and it is good to see that MPs recognise the important role that community pharmacy teams play in ensuring that patients do get their medicines when they need them.

As we know and is made clear in the report, generic medicines shortages are a very complex global issue and with Brexit on the horizon that is likely to remain the case. We would now like to see the Department of Health and Social Care working with us to develop a fairer and more responsive concession system that ensures that hard working pharmacies do not face unfair risks, and that the impact of supply problems is not passed on to them or their patients.”



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