The DH's proposals included: changing how category A, C and M prices are set; changing the arrangements for reimbursing and procuring unlicensed medicines; and splitting the discount deduction scale into one for generics and one for brands.
The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) told C+D it “sees the merit” in many of the DH’s proposals outlined in the consultation – which closed on Tuesday (September 17) – but “we don’t see any serious effort to properly address the ongoing deeply unfair problem of dispensing at a loss”.
“We urge further careful consideration of a number of these proposals in order to avoid potential consequences,” the NPA added.
In a letter to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) sent in June, ahead of the announcement of the funding contract, NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette called for an overhaul of pharmacy payment mechanisms, to ensure timely payments and to “address the nonsense of dispensing at a loss”.
Contractors must “have reasonable certainty of what they will be reimbursed and that they will not be dispensing at a loss”, Mr Lyonette said at the time.
AIMp chief: Keep engaging with the DH
The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) chief executive Leyla Hannbeck agreed with the NPA that “there is no mention of dispensing at a loss” in the DH's consultation.
It is good to see the DH looking into ways to change pharmacy’s payment systems, she told C+D, but stressed that the consultation “doesn’t go far enough”.
Despite the consultation closing on Tuesday, Ms Hannbeck urged pharmacists to keep engaging with the DH on the “very important topic” of drug reimbursement.
“The more we talk about it, and the more we respond to DH consultations, the better it will be from the sector's perspective,” she said.