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'My pharmacy could lose £2,500 a month if generics shortages continue'

Dipak Pau: 80 of the top 100 generic products I dispense have been affected
Dipak Pau: 80 of the top 100 generic products I dispense have been affected

A pharmacy owner has told C+D he expects to lose up to £2,500 a month if generics shortages continue.

Last month, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced it is in "urgent discussions" with the Department of Health (DH) about the "catastrophic" effect of generics shortages on contractors' cash flow.

Speaking to C+D following PSNC’s announcement, Dipak Pau, owner and superintendent pharmacist of The Pill Box pharmacy in Chelmsford, said not only are the shortages having an “impact on the smooth running of my business”, but he could stand to lose thousands of pounds a month if the issues continue.

“Items I was buying for 15p are now in excess of £4,” Mr Pau told C+D last month (September 22).

“If I’m selling 1,000 packs a month in one single line in my pharmacy, I will lose £1,500 to £2,500.”

However, the real cost to the business will be higher, as “it’s not just one product” that is affected, Mr Pau explained.

“It’s 80 to 90 products, in different strengths and formulations,” he added.

Mr Pau claimed the cost of buying antipsychotic medication olanzapine from wholesalers increased “170 times” in just three weeks, following a shortage in the market.

The price of antipsychotic quetiapine is also increasing an “extraordinary amount”, he added.

Independents most impacted

Mr Pau warned that if the DH fails to act on the current supply issues, independent pharmacies could “slowly go bust”.

“[Independents] struggling to buy stock in, and buying stock at multiple times the value of what they are getting back from the DH, are losing money hand-over-fist,” he stressed.

“You can only sustain losses for so long.”

C+D has asked PSNC for an update on its “urgent talks” with the DH.

How are generics shortages affecting your pharmacy?

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

I get frequent requests as a practice pharmacist for alternative generics and many of them are prescribed by secondary care hopsital consultants. So It;s not always a simple switch and takes up to a week to get an answer if that.... Terrible situation and many times I say well try another chemist as some chemists locally can have a knee jerk 'OH Go back to the doctor', well buXXer me but the chemist up the road might have some. I must say we have a lazy chemist whom if I were the manager I would atleast ring around and see if a couple of chenist had it and send them on there way. That does not happen these days...

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

Tbf the patient too can call round to see if other pharmacies stock the medicine. Phone numbers are on the NHS website.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Well I suppose it depends if you want to show some good customer care that you mighy at least offer to  phone one chemist if it's a regular customer. Depends how much you value their custom or not. I would tend to offer them a call out of decency and courtesy....Anyways as I said before maybe things have changed in my 30 plus years as a pharmacist and as a locum you may just not care..

A LOCUM, Community pharmacist

well you independant owners it may be time to tighten the belt , or sell the business and make millions , sell the porshe, bentley, audi , bmw , sell the substantial investment property portfolio , sell the shares ,  take kids out of private boarding school , cut back on cruise liner holidays and first class air and rail travel , 

Dave Downham, Manager

...reduce the number of locum hours you work or lt the very least your rate...

A LOCUM, Community pharmacist

how about getting rid of needless non pharmacist managers ?

Wolverine 001 , Pharmacist Director

How about replacing you with an ACT - sounds great to me 

Shamir Patel, Community pharmacist

Dosulepin, perindopril, glimepiride, duloxetine all next on the shortages. Expect massive price rises, if not already. I paid £8.99 for a box of perindopril 2mg today. The MHRA need to look at the impact of closing factories and suspending production on the UK supply chain 

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

And perhaps an investigation to ascertain how many of these shortages are genuine (caused by manufacturing problems) and how many have been engineered?

By engineered I am suggesting that with the enormous difference between the Drug Tariff price and the Concession price it would be naïve not to suspect some parties buying up a substantial fraction of a production run of a generic on the wholesale market and then sitting on it thus actually causing a shortage and the inevitable price rise. Maybe some manufacturers are complicit.

When the price is high enough the stock can then be released. Next time a line comes back into supply (at a vastly elevated price) have a look on the pack and see when it was manufactured....I suspect quite a few will have been made before the shortage suggesting that they will have been sitting in a container somewhere.

With the percentage price rises we are seeing £millions could be made by this market manipulation on a single generic.

Priyesh Desai, Superintendent Pharmacist

the impact will be much worse than the clawback, combine them togather and the outlook is very bleak

Andrew Martin, Primary care pharmacist

I've been hearing stories of wholesalers refusing to release stock to community pharmacies until they know it has got a price concession.

Chandra Nathwani, Community pharmacist

Multiple Choice Question.  

   Is this behaviour as a result of:

a)  Law of supply and demand

b)  Capitalism (alias Greed)

c)  Blackmail

d) Failure by the Govt to set a cap on the price of drugs (as is being proposed       for energy prices)

Ps:  Maybe

"refusing to release stock to community pharmacies" should read

"refusing to release stock to INDEPENDENT community pharmacies " ?



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