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DH refuses to reveal wholesalers making 'unexplained' generics profits

DH: Revealing commercially sensitive data could damage our ability to set reimbursement prices
DH: Revealing commercially sensitive data could damage our ability to set reimbursement prices

The government has refused to reveal which wholesalers made “unexpected” profits from increases in generics prices, claiming it would “prejudice” their commercial interests.

A National Audit Office (NAO) report into last year’s “unexpected increase” in generics prices – published last month (June 8) – referred to government evidence of “unexpected increases in wholesalers’ margins, which it could not fully explain”.

The following week, the UK’s largest wholesalers denied any knowledge of the “unexplained” margin growth.

C+D used the Freedom of Information Act to request the names of the wholesalers the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) had identified as having experienced a growth in their margins, but was told it would “not be in the public interest” to disclose this information.

While the DH “recognises a public interest in generally understanding the mechanisms used to set reimbursement prices”, it told C+D that “the actual data used to set concessionary prices is obtained from suppliers, and as such is commercially sensitive”.

“The department considers that disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of suppliers,” it added.

Wholesalers currently submit information on generics prices to the DH “under voluntary arrangements negotiated between the DH and industry representative bodies”, it explained.

“If organisations decide not to give this information again due to [the] risk of the department disclosing the information and prejudicing their commercial interests, it would damage the department’s ability to set reimbursement prices which reflect market prices, thus possibly increasing the cost to the taxpayer.”

Earlier this month, a DH representative told the Public Accounts Committee – the parliamentary office responsible for scrutinising government spending – that there is “no concrete evidence” to explain why some wholesalers’ profits grew in parallel with last year’s generics price increases.

How is your pharmacy coping with the generics supply and pricing issues?

S Morein, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

The same as contractors with unexplained growth in profits and magins. How does that happen? Maybe those details should be released to the public too?

A Hussain, Senior Management

My profits most definitely haven't grown, but I'm doing more items and my drugs bill is considerably more. Explain that...

N patel , Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Business is business

Dave Downham, Manager

...and a corned beef sandwich is a corned beef sandwich.

SIMON MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

have you seen anyones FP34's recently ?   Can you tell me how having to dispense xalatan agianst generic rx's is incresing my margins.  ? 


Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

Ah, Mr(s) Morein, I've been expecting you! As much as I love baseless drivel, if contractors did have a growth in profits, would you be able to offer any evidence to back this up? Or is this yet more hot air from some one that quote obviously has an axe to grind, possibly on the chip of his/her own shoulder?

S Morein, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Have a look at any of the pharmacies for sale at any of the transfer agents. All rising profits. Hope that helps Mr Merriman.

Dave Downham, Manager

I have, and they're not. 

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

It's costing the NHS, and therefore taxpayers across the country, hundreds of millions of pounds.  How on earth is it NOT in the public interest?!

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

When they say that it's not in the public's interest, what they actually mean is that it's not in their interest. I wonder why? I have my theories.

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