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Changes to Category A prices: Not the right time to tamper the process, says CPE

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Contractors are being informed that prices of medicines in Category A will be updated quarterly from April this year 

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will introduce new arrangements for the setting of Drug Tariff Category A reimbursement prices from April 2024.

Driven by ministers, DHSC’s decision aims to equalise access to margin on Category A medicines and it’s part of a series of drug reimbursement reforms proposed by the department following a public consultation in 2019.

Currently, prices of medicines in Category A are subject to monthly adjustment. From 1 April 2024, these will be updated quarterly based on sales and volume data obtained by DHSC under the Health Service Products (Provision and Disclosure of Information) Regulations 2018. The transition will conclude in July 2025 when the reimbursement prices will be exclusively determined by the new method.

Advance notice for contractors regarding the ‘new arrangements’ has been outlined on the NHSBSA website.

However, Community Pharmacy England (CPE) did not support the introduction of the changes at this time as pharmacies are currently grappling with “wider challenges” and there is uncertainty about the potential impact of these changes on the already “turbulent” medicines supply chain

Mike Dent, director of pharmacy funding at CPE, said: “Now is not the time to be tampering with established price-setting processes and as such Community Pharmacy England has not accepted these changes going ahead.

“Community pharmacies are weighed down by long-standing funding pressures and already struggling to keep up with the large number of medicines supply issues: there is little to be gained and much to lose when we can’t predict how the market may react to these changes.”

The committee expressed concern that moving to less frequent price updates for Category A medicines could “increase price volatility and the need for price concessions.”

It has asked pharmacies to report any problems obtaining a Part VIII product at or below the stated Drug Tariff price, using the online feedback form on its website.

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