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Numark urges DH to take ‘immediate action’ on 60 concessionary prices

John D'Arcy: Numark members are now facing “serious cashflow issues”
John D'Arcy: Numark members are now facing “serious cashflow issues”

Numark has urged the government to take “immediate action” to tackle desperately needed concessionary prices for 60 generic items.

The buying group reported that there are also “almost 200 products having to be purchased at above tariff reimbursement prices”.

Managing director John D’Arcy told C+D this week (December 4) Numark members are now facing “serious cashflow issues”.

“In a month where dispensing volumes are at their highest, as is workload for pharmacists, how can a contractor run their business at a loss and total uncertainty as to whether they will even get paid the right price for a service they provide on behalf of the NHS?” Mr D’Arcy asked.

“We are urging the Department of Health (DH) to take immediate action to redress this, and at the very least agree to all the outstanding pricing adjustments,” he added.

He stressed that the “discrepancy situation” will “continue to worsen”, and the DH needs to “face this reality more responsibly for the sake of community pharmacy”.

“Complete and utter disgrace”

A contractor – who wished to remain anonymous – called the situation a "complete and utter disgrace" and said they are worried that banks will "pull the plug" on pharmacies because the "profit isn’t there".

"The government are playing hard ball over price concessions," they told C+D this week. "They’re not prepared to cave in, because we’re saying we’re paying too much for [generics]."

The contractor listed four drugs they are still waiting for concessionary prices from November: topiramate, perindopril, losartan and glimepiride.

“Many contractors are facing a hell of a time and we’re basically kept going by the goodwill of our bank,” they added.

A “crazy situation”

Another contractor – who wished to remain anonymous – called the concessionary price delays a "crazy situation", when speaking to C+D last week (December 1).

Pharmacists buy products from wholesalers "in good faith", that they will "be reimbursed somewhere near the price that we’ve paid for it", they pointed out.

However, "that doesn’t always happen" as drug prices are "astronomically high".

"Quetiapine is about £1.70 on the drug tariff, but has actually gone up to almost £100," they explained. "You can lose £10, £20, or £30 on dispensing one prescription."

"The whole thing is a ridiculously difficult situation for pharmacies to be able to plan any future staffing, investment or to make any financial decisions whatsoever," they added.

Which items are you waiting to receive concessionary prices for?

Sunny Jim, Pharmacy Buyer

It’s amazing the tories can find £39 billion for a brexit deal but not £50 million just to getcontractors through this tough period.its not like they are gonna hoard the money. It’s just to pay for higher overheads. 

Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

I suspect the government don't care too much about the damage incurred to independent pharmacies as the expected reduction in contractor numbers by at least 25% is still not happening quickly enough. I suspect the two main wholesalers are being complicit in the current shenanigans with full knowledge of the government.

Hadi Al-Bayati, Locum pharmacist

If it is the wholesalers inflating the price the government probably already knows....

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

The whole situation is so stressful for small contractors but I suspect some very big players are making a killing. Now could C&D investigate that?

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

There is little doubt that these shortages and price hikes are making a fortune for some. As suggested before, it is almost certain that many/most of these shortages are engineered with the sole intention of causing a dramatic price rise.

The Times (7th Dec.) front page led on a story highlighting just this. Question is who is making the money?

The article quoted Warwick Smith of the British Generic Manufacturers Association who stated “that something very unusual” was going on. He stated that the concessionary prices agreed by the Government were about 2.5 times higher than the prices the manufacturers were charging to the wholesalers.  

If this is true the prime suspects are the wholesalers. The big two are ideally placed for this with their pan European distribution network, vertical integration and a myriad of subsidiary companies which could be used to conceal the vast profits that can be made by manipulating the generic market.

Investigation of the practices of these wholesalers is urgently needed.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager


Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager


Clarke Kent, Community pharmacist

I agree Barry, profit will be had for those pulling the strings. Unfortunately the whole situation is all too surreal for those on the forefront of community pharmacy. The government have been made a mockery of, imposing harsh cuts, then having to raid the ‘emergency winter fund’ to pay it all back and some. The situation is gaining traction in the media. But how many patients have to suffer (or worse) before the government take action, rather than just watch millions dwindle in concessions. So much for cuts. Had they just left the pot alone, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess. Soon the government won’t have a pot to **** in. Their own doing in my opinion. 

SydBashford Sold&Retired&DeRegistered, Community pharmacist

Agree. Is it genuinly the Manufacturers or the wholesalers that have put the prices up ?

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