Drug cost increases for dispensing GPs

Dispensing practices face a hike in drug costs and fear supplies could become unreliable after a legal battle to prevent changes to supply arrangements failed.

Dispensing Doctor Association Chief Executive Dr David Baker
Dispensing Doctor Association Chief Executive Dr David Baker

Pharmaceutical wholesalers have been unable to secure a High Court injunction preventing drug firm Pfizer from cutting them out of the supply chain and switching to a single supplier.

Pfizer drugs account for around 10-15 per cent of drugs supplied by dispensing practices. Pfizer is confident the move is 'in full compliance with all applicable EU and UK laws'.

But dispensing GPs fear it could force wholesalers and even small drug firms out of business.

Dispensing Doctors' Association chief executive Dr David Baker said the price of Pfizer drugs would increase because wholesaler discounts would not be matched under the system.

'The move will ratchet up the cost of other drugs,' Dr Baker said. 'Wholesalers have had 15 per cent of their business taken away, but their infrastructure costs will not change, so they will have to recoup the costs somehow.' He said wholesalers would be forced to raise prices or take other actions that could disrupt supplies, such as cutting the frequency of deliveries.

He pointed out that in the medium term, Pfizer's move could have severe implications for smaller manufacturers, on whose medications many patients rely.

'If more of the big firms switch to this sort of arrangement, wholesalers might go out of business, and then small drug firms would not be able to afford to deliver their drugs,' Dr Baker said.

nick.bostock@haymarket.com

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