RPS England responds to National Audit Office report on generic pricing

Without stability pharmacists struggle and patients suffer says Sandra Gidley

Commenting on the report from the National Audit Office (NAO) into NHS spending on generic medicines in primary care, RPS England Board Chair Sandra Gidley said:

“This NAO investigation brings clarity to an issue which has hit community pharmacists hard over the past year.  Many have found themselves out of pocket and experienced problems with their business operations.  This has been a double whammy as it comes on top of the community pharmacy cuts and we are past the stage where community pharmacists can prop up the health service out of goodwill.”

“Community pharmacy plays an important role in negotiating the prices of medicines reimbursed by the NHS.  Pharmacists do such a good job in fact that the UK is in the lower half of the EU15 countries for spend on medicines.

“Every day, community pharmacists are ensuring that patients receive their medicines promptly. Medicines shortages and fluctuating prices mean that pharmacists have to devote more time to track down supplies for their patients, in what is already a highly pressured environment.

"This frequently occurs ‘behind the scenes’ without patients being aware and so goes unrecognised. However, it prevents many patients from otherwise having to go back to their doctor, so saving the NHS time and money by preventing unnecessary GP appointments.

“The financial value of this work in enormous.  A 2016 report commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee found that “community pharmacies’ interventions on drug shortages result in an estimated annual cost saving to the NHS of £53.2 million and an overall contribution to wider society of £92.4 million.”

“We must have greater stability in generic prices – without it pharmacists struggle, CCGs are left in debt and patients suffer.”