The government-initiated  consultation on drug reimbursement reforms is an ideal opportunity for all pharmacies to make DHSC aware of the serious issues that community pharmacy is facing in margins, says Bharat Shah.

Sigma Pharmaceuticals founder and CEO, Bharat Shah, says the government-initiated  consultation on drug reimbursement reforms is an ideal opportunity for all pharmacies to make the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) aware of the serious issues that community pharmacy is facing in margins.

The DHSC opened a public consultation on 23 July seeking views on a variety of reimbursement matters.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has called the proposals, to change how community pharmacy contractors in England are paid for the drugs they dispense against NHS prescriptions, “the first step in improving reimbursement arrangements”.

Bharat Shah says: “There is an imbalance of margin between the different sectors of the supply chain, including community pharmacies, and this needs to be addressed. I believe that generics substitution is definitely an answer as a lot of margin has shifted from generics in category M to branded generics. Also, category M is not reflective of current situation and this should be addressed… this is an excellent opportunity to respond to a very important consultation.”

The proposal suggests changes on how community pharmacy contractors are paid for the drugs they dispense against NHS prescriptions.

As of now, pharmacists receive payment from the NHS for each drug they dispense against an NHS prescription. The DHSC proposes some improvements which can provide fair pay for pharmacies and value for money to the NHS and taxpayers.

It wants to ensure the reimbursement prices to be reflective of the market and proposes changes to the methodology for setting reimbursement prices for specific products.

Addressing the issue of generic medicines becoming more expensive than the branded version, the department suggests changing the distribution of medicine margin added to generic medicine in Category M.

It also wants to use actual purchase, sales and volume information already obtained in the quarterly collection under the Health Service Products (Provision and Disclosure of Information) Regulations 2018 to set category reimbursement prices.

The DHSC plans to introduce the reforms from April 2020, according to the consultation.

Further consultation on the details of the new reimbursement mechanisms will be held with PSNC following the public stage of the consultation, which closes at 23:59 hours on 17 September 2019.

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