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PSNC: Review of price concessions ‘the priority’ for pharmacy contractors

A review of the price concessions system will take precedent over planned drug reimbursement reforms, PSNC director of pharmacy funding Mike Dent has said.

In August, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced the first of a series of drug reimbursement reforms it had agreed with the government, part of which will see the gradual introduction of a new discount deduction system later this year.

While the reforms are part of a “massive programme” and there are more to come, PSNC first needs “to focus [its] energy and effort” on “sorting” out the price concessions system, Mr Dent told C+D last week (September 23) at a press briefing.

“That is the priority for [pharmacy] contractors,” he said.

PSNC is “currently just at the foothills of a review of the price concession process and how the system is implemented in practice”, Mr Dent said, adding that he had his first meeting with the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) about it last Wednesday (September 21).

 

Short-term vs long-term fix

 

With negotiations on the community pharmacy contractual framework finalised last week (September 22), PSNC announced it was unable to secure higher funding for years 4 and 5 of the five-year contract.

However, it got the DH to commit to reviewing the price concessions system, which the negotiator hit out at last week for forcing pharmacies to “subsidise the NHS medicines bill”.

Read more: ‘Grim milestone’: More drug concessions than ever sit below purchase price

Having met with the DH last week, Mr Dent told C+D “the process has started effectively”.

Although the current concessionary system “works fine if there aren’t many” price concessions, it “can’t really cope” with large “spikes”, he explained.

 

Reimbursement reforms to come

 

“Changes to the way Category A prices are set” will be ushered in next as part of the drug reimbursement reform programme, a PSNC spokesperson told C+D this week (September 26).

The negotiator will also rethink “how the medicine margin is distributed in Category M drugs” and how prices for Category C drugs with multiple suppliers are set.

PSNC will further include non-medicinal products in the drug tariff under the reforms, the spokesperson said, as well as change how prices are set for drugs not in Part VIIIA of the tariff and how generically prescribed drugs and appliances dispensed as ‘specials’ are reimbursed.

“We haven’t got a timeline for when or which order these [reforms] will come in, as they are dependent on progress in discussions with the DH,” the PSNC spokesperson noted.

Head of the British Generic Manufacturers Association told C+D last week (September 21) that that NHSE will be forced to pay a “higher drugs bill” unless it “urgently” completes its planned drug reimbursement reforms.

 

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