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Clawback must “provide funding certainty” in Northern Ireland, says Phoenix director

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Clawback must “provide funding certainty” in Northern Ireland, says Phoenix director

Phoenix Medical Supplies sales director John Pignone has written to the government in Northern Ireland to express his concern that revised discount arrangements there will hit community pharmacies hard and urged ministers to work with the sector’s negotiator to agree a clawback that will “provide funding certainty and fairness both now and in the years ahead.”

Pignone (pictured) warned improved clawback arrangements are needed “to protect community pharmacists and the medicines supply chain” and ensure the supply of drugs to patients is not jeopardised. He said his members have told Phoenix the revised discount arrangements, which apply from this month, “will have a detrimental financial impact on their ability to provide essential care services for people and patients in Northern Ireland.”

“This is clearly a cause for concern as pharmacy is, and should be, the first port of call for many people with healthcare concerns,” Pignone wrote, highlighting Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland’s opposition to the new arrangements “in the context of historic underfunding and drug tariff arrangements which make it near impossible for pharmacy owners to plan for the future.”

He added: “It simply cannot be right that pharmacy owners face unexpected and unpredictable peaks and troughs in income.”

Pignone claimed the Scottish government “has been aware of and sensitive to margin adjustments and has sought to smooth out their impact,” insisting the clawback there on qualifying branded medicines was reduced to 1.79 per cent from last month while the clawback on qualifying generic medicines stayed at nought per cent.

Although he did not dispute “the principle of clawback,” he said the mechanism “needs to be simple, clear, predictable and appropriate for the contractual model” so pharmacies can “adjust to financial flows over a reasonable period of time.”

“Financial shocks to the system work in nobody’s interests: the sector, the NHS, or patients,” he said. “We ask that the Department works with CPNI to determine and agree any clawback arrangements that should apply to NI in a manner which provides funding certainty and fairness.

“Should the financial situation for contractors not be addressed there is a significant risk of default of payment to all those who supply medicines to Northern Ireland which we all wish to avoid. That would undermine the medicines supply chain in Northern Ireland where we have already seen some suppliers of medicines withdraw from the market.”

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