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Pharmacy minister committed to reforming category M pricing

The government is committed to pursuing a number of reimbursement reforms in community pharmacy, including changes to category M, Steve Brine has said.

In its long-term plan, published last week (January 7), NHS England said it aims to “explore further efficiencies” in community pharmacy, by reforming the sector's “reimbursement and wider supply arrangements”.

Pharmacy minister Mr Brine has since revealed that the reimbursement reforms include “changes to category M for certain generic medicines to better reflect their market price”, and “changes to the way category A prices are set”.

Responding to a written question from Labour MP for Darlington Jenny Chapman last week (January 10), Mr Brine referred to “a number of reimbursement reforms”, which were originally outlined in the 2016-17 pharmacy funding contract for England (see below).

Mr Brine also said the DH has “recently committed to reforming reimbursement for specials”.

The government is “taking steps to improve the prescription ordering journey to maximise patient choice and convenience”, he said

The DH continues to engage with Theresa May’s cabinet on the role of community pharmacy and “the important contribution of pharmacy teams as outlined in the NHS long-term plan”, Mr Brine added.

PSNC welcomes commitment to reforms

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) director of pharmacy funding Mike Dent said his organisation “welcomes the minister’s confirmation that the government remains committed to these reimbursement reforms, some of which we agreed to review as part of a previous funding settlement”.

“We are keen to begin funding negotiations for 2019-20 as soon as possible,” he added.

Pharmacies in England will not receive any funding increase for 2018-19. Mr Brine also said last week that the DH “will be seeking to renegotiate the community pharmacy contractual framework” and is “committed to working closely with PSNC to better utilise the reach and skill set of pharmacy teams”.

Last week, sector bodies, including the Company Chemists’ Association and the National Pharmacy Association, said community pharmacy needs to be fairly remunerated in order to meet the priorities of the long-term plan.

DH's planned reimbursement reforms for pharmacy

Mr Brine said the government is committed to pursuing the following reforms to community pharmacy reimbursement:

  • ‘non-part VIII’ products, eg products with no reimbursement price listed in part VIII of the drug tariff
  • changes to category M for certain generic medicines to better reflect their market price
  • changes to the margin survey to account for multiple suppliers for non-part VIII products and category C products
  • ‘splitting the discount’ – to reflect that in general generic medicines have increased margin over brands
  • changes to the way category A prices are set.

Source: Department of Health and Social Care, Community Pharmacy in 2016-17 and beyond, October 2016

See more on the proposed reimbursement reforms in the PSNC funding webinar from 2016.

What do you make of Brine's explanation?

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