NAO investigation and RPS report on mental health – some reflections

This month saw the publication of two major reports, polar opposites in terms of scope and purpose, yet each with potentially significant implications for the sector.

The National Audit Office investigation into last year’s unprecedented hike in generics prices runs to 28 pages and contains a wealth of detail and market analysis – but little in the way of meaningful explanation.

The DHSC’s identification of unexpected and unexplained increases in wholesaler margins caught the eye but, as the report admits, the reliance on voluntary arrangements to obtain market information means there is a lack of transparency that could mask all sorts of shenanigans in the supply chain.

There have been calls for tougher regulation and next month the DHSC will have new powers to control generics pricing and obtain information. By which time the market will probably have found new ways to circumvent the latest attempts to get a handle on it.

Pharmacists couldn’t care less. They just want to obtain medicines promptly for their patients (not spend hours on the phone sourcing product) and not be out of pocket as a result. To do their job, in other words.

Less controversial but equally important was the report from RPS England calling for pharmacists to play a bigger role in mental health care. Among its common sense proposals was the inclusion of antidepressants in the new medicine service. It is good to see the RPS and PSNC finally in alignment over what was an obvious omission in the first place.

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