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Media And Political Bulletin – 18 March 2019

Media and Political Bulletin

18 March 2019

Media Summary

DH’s drug price-cap powers will prioritise fair pharmacy reimbursement

Chemist and Druggist, Isabel Finch, 15 March 2019

Chemist and Druggist reports that the Government will use its medicines price-capping powers to ensure pharmacies are reimbursed fairly as a ‘priority.’

The Government is currently preparing a formal consultation with ‘relevant industry bodies’ before implementing the price-setting powers.

The article also notes Baroness Manzoor’s comments last month, when she said that there are ‘isolated cases’ of generics price hiking, which ‘appears to be where there is no competition, or competition isn’t working well and some suppliers have increased their prices to what appear to be unwarranted levels.’

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Parliamentary Coverage

House of Commons, Tabled and Written Questions, 15 March 2019

Caroline Lucas, MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 7 March 2019 to Question 226647 on Medical Treatments, whether suppliers have confirmed that they have plans in place to air freight short shelf-life medicines, including medical radioisotopes, to avoid any border delays that may arise in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Answered by Stephen Hammond: Our number one priority is for patients to continue to have access to medicines, including medical radioisotopes, whatever the European Union exit outcome, and we have robust contingency plans in place.

Leaving the EU with a deal remains the Government’s top priority. However, as a responsible Government we must plan for every possible outcome including ‘no deal’. The Department has published guidance to industry and the health and care system to allow them to make informed plans and preparations. This is available on GOV.UK.

The Department has been working with industry to ensure that air freight is contracted to maintain continuity of supply for certain short shelf-life products, including medical radioisotopes, in the initial period following 29 March 2019 should the United Kingdom leave the EU without a deal.

Throughout enacting our plans, the response from industry has been extremely positive. Industry shares our aims of ensuring continuity of medicines’ supply for patients is maintained and that companies are able to cope with any potential delays at the border that may arise in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

We are confident that if everyone does what they need to do, the supply of medicines and other medical products will be uninterrupted.

Paul Blomfield, MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of leaving the EU without a deal on the supply of medicine for juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

 

Answered by Stephen Hammond: Leaving the European Union with a deal remains the Government’s top priority. However, as a responsible Government we must plan for every possible outcome including ‘no deal’. The Department has published guidance to industry and the health and care system to allow them to make informed plans and preparations. This is available on GOV.UK.

The Government has been working closely with industry to ensure the supply of medicines can continue uninterrupted in the event of a ‘no deal’ EU exit, including building stockpiles, providing additional warehousing space, and buying freight capacity on alternative ferry routes.

In August 2018, the Department wrote to all pharmaceutical companies that supply prescription-only and pharmacy medicines, including those to treat juvenile idiopathic arthritis, to the United Kingdom that come from or via the EU/European Economic Area, asking them to ensure a minimum of six weeks’ additional supply in the UK over and above existing business-as-usual buffer stocks by 29 March 2019.

This has been a very large undertaking but the response from industry has been extremely positive. The vast majority of companies have confirmed stockpiling plans are in place and medicines continue to arrive to deliver on these plans.

Local stockpiling of medicines is unnecessary and could cause shortages in other areas, which could put patient care at risk. It is important that patients order their repeat prescriptions as normal and keep taking their medicines as normal.

We are confident that if everyone does what they need to do, the supply of medicines and other medical products will be uninterrupted.

Full Coverage

DH’s drug price-cap powers will prioritise fair pharmacy reimbursement

Chemist and Druggist, Isabel Finch, 15 March 2019

The government will use its medicines price-capping powers to ensure pharmacies are reimbursed fairly as a “priority”, it has told C+D.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) was granted powers in July 2017 to impose changes to medicine prices when it thinks “inappropriate pricing may be occurring”.

 

It is currently preparing a formal consultation with “relevant industry bodies” before finally implementing the price-setting powers.

“Our priority is to ensure that all patients continue to get their medicine, and that community pharmacies are reimbursed fairly for the products they dispense,” the DH told C+D when discussing these powers on Tuesday (March 12).

“Isolated cases” of price hiking

There are “isolated cases” of generics price hiking, which “appears to be where there is no competition, or competition isn’t working well and some suppliers have increased their prices to what appear to be unwarranted levels”, government spokesperson Baroness Manzoor said last month.

“We do not control prices of generic medicines, but rely on competition to drive prices down,” she added. “This normally works well and has led to some of the lowest prices in Europe.”

Price concessions do not mean shortages

Price fluctuations across Europe can lead to concessionary prices, the DH explained. However, price concessions do not necessarily mean those products are in short supply, it stressed.

In June 2018, a National Audit Office report into the “unexpected increase” in generics prices in 2017 referred to government evidence of “unexpected increases in wholesalers’ margins”, which the DH could not fully explain.

Media And Political Bulletin – 18 March 2019

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