NHS drug cost fears under distribution scheme

The NHS bill for prescription drugs could rise by ‘hundreds of millions’ of pounds, according to a report by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

The price of prescription drugs and the time patients wait to receive them will increase because of new methods of distribution, says the watchdog.

The study looked at the new direct to pharmacy (DTP) method of distribution. Under the system, drug manufacturers can bypass a number of competing wholesalers and pay just one wholesaler to deliver the medicine, reducing the discount available to the pharmacy.

The NHS currently spends about £6 billion a year on branded prescription medicines dispensed in pharmacies. 

‘The changes to the distribution of medicines in the UK are among the most significant for many years, and have given rise to real concerns,’ said OFT chief executive John Fingleton.

Many of the large companies like Pfizer and Astra Zeneca have started to introduce DTP schemes to distribute their drugs and the OFT wants the government to act now to prevent a surge in costs for the NHS.

The study recommends that the DoH makes changes to the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme to ensure that NHS medicines costs do not increase.

 ‘Our recommendations give manufacturers the freedom to use the type of distribution that suits them, while ensuring protection for patients and the NHS’, said Mr Finleton.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

Medicines distribution: an OFT market study

Comment below and tell us what you think

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

RCGP urges GPs to collaborate with pharmacies on flu jabs this year

RCGP urges GPs to collaborate with pharmacies on flu jabs this year

The RCGP and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society have called on GP practices and community...

GP appointments rising fast as COVID-19 cases 'near 10,000 a day'

GP appointments rising fast as COVID-19 cases 'near 10,000 a day'

GP appointments have risen rapidly in recent weeks as schools returned, according...

COVID-19 impact on medical schools risks 'serious damage' to future NHS workforce

COVID-19 impact on medical schools risks 'serious damage' to future NHS workforce

Medical training and the future NHS workforce could be seriously damaged by the financial...

GPonline's news editor wins medical journalism award

GPonline's news editor wins medical journalism award

GPonline news editor Nick Bostock has won News Story of the Year (specialist media)...

How GPs can support patients with 'long COVID'

How GPs can support patients with 'long COVID'

GPs must be ready to support patients with physical, psychological and social problems...

BMA demands 'rule of six' overhaul to prevent further lockdowns

BMA demands 'rule of six' overhaul to prevent further lockdowns

The government must scrap its high-risk ‘rule of six’ and introduce more stringent...