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Brexit causing ‘significant’ generic drug shortages

Generics firms contest reason for shortages

Pharmacies in England are reporting a ‘significant’ shortage in some medicines, warns the sector's Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), and claims that Brexit is somewhat to blame.

It says that manufacturers are imposing higher-than-usual tariffs on drugs due to the country becoming a less attractive market.

“Community pharmacies are reporting increasing problems sourcing some generic medicines for their patients,” said Simon Dukes, the chief executive of PSNC.

Simon Dukes
Simon Dukes, CEO, PSNC

“Pharmacy teams are continuing to work hard to ensure that all patients receive the medicines they need when they need them, but we are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact that this is having on already busy pharmacy teams.”

To help with this, the PSNC draws up a list of medicines that have been affected each month, and in collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Care, adds a list of concessionary prices for those drugs.

Pharmacy contractors will then get automatically reimbursed on the basis of the concessionary prices, instead of the drug tariff list price.

The list was first introduced back in 2014 to avoid a chain of problems for the NHS associated with higher drug tariffs.

The total number of medicines that have been added to the list this month is 96, the highest number since the list was first launched, and includes painkillers and certain morphine products that are commonly required by cancer patients.

However Warwick Smith, Director General of the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA), which represents the sector, defended his member companies.

He told PMLiVE that that the number of products on a concessionary price didn't indicate "widespread shortages or market failure”.

Warwick Smith
Warwick Smith, Director General, BGMA

“Generic prices overall are increasing, which leads to concessionary prices, but as a response to a range of market pressures rather than a response to any single factor such as Brexit or stockpiling,” adds Smith.

He explained that the reimbursement price paid to pharmacies for dispensing generic medicines includes a guaranteed income of £800m per year, but this was overpaid in 2017.

“The DHSC is clawing this back by reducing pharmacy payments, which reduces flexibility in the reimbursement system.

“This is the normal cycle to ensure that pharmacy receives the correct sum and that the NHS does not overpay. This long-established process can give the incorrect perception that the prices of generic medicines have gone up even when the manufacturer’s price has not changed.”

The news builds on a recent warning by the ABPI, which has called for a temporary medicines export ban to avoid medicines shortages should a no-deal Brexit arises.

Meanwhile, at the political level, Brexit remains at a crisis level, with the UK currently set to leave the EU without a deal in just two days time. The EU is, however, expected to agree an extension for the UK at an emergency summit of EU leaders today. The length of this extension and its terms are yet to be agreed, but could see the UK stay in the EU until December 2019 or even March 2020 if no withdrawal agreement can be signed off by then.

Article by
Gemma Jones

10th April 2019

From: Healthcare



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