Drug shortage looms as price change hits supply

Dispensing Practices could be forced to dispense drugs at a loss.

Planned cuts in drug prices and a weak pound could leave the UK short of medicines and force GPs to dispense at a loss to ensure continuity of care for patients this winter.

Martin Sawer, chairman of the British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers, believes the new price deal between the DoH and drug manufacturers is 'the straw that might break the system'.

He told GP: '1 January is the worst day you could choose to implement a change like this.'

Wholesalers have begun running down their stock due to the price cut, because there is no guarantee that manufacturers will refund money lost from buying medicines at a higher price in December and selling them at a lower price in January, he said.

Dispensing Doctors' Association vice-chairman Dr Allan Tennant said that, while he would reduce his stock holding, he would still have to dispense at a loss. 'I will pay that cost, because I am an ethical practitioner,' he said. 'My patients will not go without any medicines they need.'

Dr Bill Beeby, chairman of the GPC prescribing subcommittee, said he would be concerned if price changes led to patients being unable to obtain the medicines they require.

The impact of the price changes comes on top of other developments that have reduced stock held by UK pharmaceutical wholesalers. The increasing use of IT ordering systems has meant wholesalers hold less stock. In addition, shifting exchange rates have made imported drugs expensive, and export more attractive, increasing pressure on UK supplies.

David Fisher, commercial director of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Indus-try, said manufacturers took supply obligations seriously and the association would discuss supply with individual wholesalers over the New Year period.


Comment below and tell us what you think

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

Clinical trials: Microscope in a lab

GPs could be incentivised to recruit patients onto commercial clinical trials

GPs could be offered incentives to recruit patients onto commercial clinical trials...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: How many GPs do we need for safe general practice, pay restoration, the state of premises

Talking General Practice looks at safe working limits and the number of GPs we need...

Stethoscope and a computer

EMIS to keep panic button after outcry from GPs

EMIS, one of the main GP IT system providers, has backtracked on plans to phase out...

Health minister Lord Markham

Health minister Lord Markham: How we will support GPs to offer patients greater choice

Health minister Lord Markham explains what the government's plans for using the NHS...

Patient receives the flu vaccine

Flu vaccination campaign to return to pre-pandemic cohorts this year

This year's flu vaccination campaign is set to be reduced after it was expanded during...

Plant-based diet

Vegan and vegetarian diets can play key role in reducing cardiovascular risk, study finds

Plant-based diets can play a significant role in lowering the risk of stroke and...