Despite ongoing discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) about medicines pricing and supply, there are currently ‘no satisfactory improvements to report,’ Janet Morrison, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said.

In November, a DHSC spokesperson told The Pharmacist that it was working ‘at pace’ to review the price concessions system, following its commitment in the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework deal in September to make the issue a priority.

Since then, medicines pricing and supply issues have worsened, with a record number of price concessions being granted in December.

‘PSNC is gravely concerned about the growing number of medicine pricing and supply issues and the impact this is having on pharmacies. Government has a duty to assure the supply of medicines and PSNC is continuing to press for urgent solutions,’ Ms Morrison told The Pharmacist.

She said that the record high number of concessions demonstrated the importance of securing a commitment in the CPCF to review the system but added: ‘Since we called for an overhaul of the system, we have had discussions with DHSC but as yet we have no satisfactory improvements to report.’

‘We are continuing to be clear that current system is not working for contractors. I have raised our concerns with Pharmacy Minister Neil O’Brien, highlighting the need to protect pharmacies from having to dispense at a loss at a time when funding cuts are crippling the sector.

‘The current situation is untenable for pharmacies with this current crisis being just the latest problem that pharmacies are unfairly having to grapple with.

‘Pharmacies should not be forced to keep funding the gap between the reimbursement and purchase prices for these medicines,’ she said.

A spokesperson for DHSC told The Pharmacist this week that it was taking action to support community pharmacy contractors, ‘including investing £2.6 billion a year into the sector as well as an additional £100 million in September to ease pressures and support contractors’.

‘The UK has some of the cheapest generic medicines in Europe and we work closely with industry, the NHS and others to make sure patients can access the medicines they need and we have well-established procedures to deal with medicines supply issues.

‘We continue to work with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee to ensure that pharmacy contractors are paid fairly when prices increase.’

Last week, Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive officer of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) urged to hold talks between manufacturers, wholesalers and pharmacies to discuss potential reforms to medicines supply.

And in December, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) wrote to health and social care secretary Steve Barclay to ask him to bring together relevant stakeholders from throughout the supply chain to convene a ‘medicines supply taskforce’, similar to the one set up for HRT last summer.

NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette said that ‘HRT and antibiotics are the most visible examples of a wider problem with medicines supply which needs to be addressed’.

In November, contractors called on PSNC to take a tougher stance with DHSC, so they no longer need to ‘subsidise’ the cost of some medicines.