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NHS: Drugs

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 211797, tabled on 23 January 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an (a) assessment of the equity of the level of remuneration for special medicinal products sold to the NHS and (b) estimate of what is an equitable amount of remuneration; and if he will make a statement.

Answered on

28 January 2019

In the period from December 2017 to November 2018, the Department spent £65 million on specials in primary care in England. That is 0.7% of spend on medicines in primary care. Spend on specials has reduced significantly since 2010 when it was £136 million. This is the consequence of a reduction in the prescribing of specials and the introduction of reimbursement prices for the most commonly prescribed specials. Specials listed with a price in the Drug Tariff incentivise community pharmacies to source the special at the lowest price possible which creates a competitive market and reduces costs. Out of the £65 million spent on specials in 2018, £20 million was spent on specials listed with a price in the Drug Tariff covering more than half of the items dispensed. The Department aims to include more specials with a reimbursement price in the Drug Tariff and seek alternative arrangements for specials that are not commonly prescribed and therefore cannot be listed with a reimbursement price. Potential savings will depend on the specials which can be listed with a Drug Tariff reimbursement price and the approach taken for those which cannot.

Named day
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