Molecule of Hydrocortisone

The British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) backs the government’s decision to analyse quarterly sales and volume data from the whole supply chain, including manufacturers, wholesalers, and pharmacists, to avoid overpricing of medicines.

The trade body has called for an “improved and enhanced” pricing and reimbursement system, in the wake of the UK’s competition regulator imposing huge fines on several pharmaceutical companies for overcharging the NHS in relation to the supply of ‘life-saving’ hydrocortisone tablets.

Responding to the Competition and Markets Authority’s investigation, BGMA said: “We note the CMA’s findings on the supply of hydrocortisone tablets, and we understand that companies will be appealing the decision. Therefore, we cannot comment on individual cases, however, history shows that generic competition consistently provides the NHS with enormous benefits.”

Every four in five medicines used in the NHS is generic, and independent review has found generic medicines are on average between 80-90 per cent less expensive than the originator.

“Since the CMA made its allegation that competition law had been infringed in relation to the supply of hydrocortisone tables, the government has clarified its powers to review and set the price of any medicine where it believes competition is not working in the interests of the taxpayer. To do this, the government now receives and analyses quarterly sales and volume data from the whole supply chain including manufacturers, wholesalers and pharmacists. We support these steps and the assurance they provide,” said BGMA.

“Going forward, we do believe that the UK’s pricing and reimbursement system could be improved and enhanced, so that it better recognises where competition is working and also where there may be fewer manufacturers supplying a medicine, irrespective of whether the drug is prescribed by a brand name or not. We will be seeking to work with the government and the NHS on this.”

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