Pharmacists should be able to dispense generic versions of branded medicines prescribed by GPs to avoid problems with medicine margins, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said.

The negotiator’s director of pharmacy funding Mike Dent told The Pharmacist yesterday (26 September) that pharmacists should be able to give a ‘therapeutically equivalent generic’ instead of a branded version prescribed by the local GP, to earn higher margins.

Mr Dent told The Pharmacist: ‘Pharmacists have to give out what’s on a prescription. If you’re in an area where you get a lot of branded generics, pharmacists don’t earn as much margin as they would in an area where people are prescribing generically.

‘One of the answers is generics substitution. You either tell the GPs they have to prescribe generically or you say to a pharmacy – regardless what’s written on the prescription – “you can give a therapeutically equivalent product”.’


Call for ‘fairer’ system


Speaking at the annual local pharmaceutical committees (LPC) conference in Birmingham, Mr Dent told delegates that the Dispensing Doctors’ Association (DDA), the General Practitioners Committee (GPC) and PSNC are currently putting pressure on the Government to have a ‘fairer [branded generic] margin distribution across the country’.

A DDA spokesperson told The Pharmacist today (27 September) that they have ‘nothing further to add at this stage’.

Mr Dent added that PSNC, the DDA and the GPC have been ‘relentlessly lobbying’ the Government over the last few months for branded generics in particular, as ‘we need to make the distribution of margin fairer across the country’.

According to Mr Dent, PSNC is currently analysing the outcomes of the 2017/18 margin survey, which is a ‘huge amount of work’ due to the numerous price concessions over the past few months.

‘For the price concession products for January, February and March, for example, the average contractor did make a small margin,’ he said.


Price concessions not ‘generous’


Following an ‘unprecedented rise’ in wholesalers’ margins in June, the Government suggested it will recoup what it called an £86m overpayment on concessionary prices.

Mr Dent continued: ‘We’re now faced with adjustments from what happened a couple of years ago and owe the Government quite a lot of money’.

Mr Dent said that the current medicine system, with contractors buying on behalf of the NHS, has ‘worked well for both parties for many years’ but means that the Government uses community pharmacy as a ‘main lever of controlling what happens in the market’.

‘So inevitably, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) put pressure on the supply chain and that means the price concessions have never been, and will never be, particularly generous,’ he continued.