The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) prevented an estimated over £300m of losses to contractors by negotiating more than 750 medicine price concessions in the last financial year, the negotiator has said.

In its 2018/19 annual report, published last week (22 October), PSNC said medicine supply disruption and pricing ‘remain serious concerns’ for community pharmacies.

The report – which covers the period between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019 – added: ‘In 2018/19, PSNC reviewed thousands of reports of shortages and pricing issues from pharmacies and we secured 767 price concessions in total.

‘We estimate that last year alone, PSNC prevented potential losses to pharmacies of some £330 million through our negotiation of concessionary prices.’


‘Unprecedented’ concession increases


However, in some cases PSNC ‘felt the need to push back’ against the Government after concessions had already been imposed, asking for further concessions to be made, the report said.

In October 2018, PSNC secured an ‘unprecedented’ price concession increase of almost 10 times the amount it had previously negotiated with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for Risperidone 2mg tablets – which jumped from £1.80 to £20.00.

The negotiator also managed to almost double a concession for Buprenorphine 8mg sublingual tablets from £8.91 in August 2018 to £15.74 the following month thanks to further evidence and ‘additional representations’, the report said.

It added: ‘For under 80p per day per pharmacy in 2018/19, PSNC checked the accuracy of over 1.5 million prescriptions to ensure reimbursement accuracy - highlighting thousands of errors to the NHS.’


'Not an easy year'


PSNC chief Simon Dukes said: ‘2018/19 was not an easy year for many pharmacy businesses, but we have been and will continue to battle on their behalf.'

In July, the Government announced plans to reform how it reimburses contractors for NHS prescriptions.

Responding to a consultation on the reforms last month, PSNC warned that the proposals risk financially disadvantaging contractors if they go ahead, by increasing workload and 'dispensing at a loss' as well as 'exacerbating' shortages.

This month, the first serious shortage protocols (SSPs) were issued to tackle shortages of the antidepressant fluoxetine, allowing community pharmacists in England to supply an alternative strength or formulation of the drug without having to go back to the patient's GP for an updated script.