How serious is the issue of shortages in the UK Pharma market asks Charles Joynson?

May 9, 2023 | Branded Generics, Brands, General, Generics, UK Brands, WaveData News

There are two primary ways in which shortages are flagged for pharmacists and dispensers. The first is the granting of a concession for generic products and the second is the product’s addition to the NHS’ serious shortage protocols (SSP) list. These have both been operating for some years and the number of products in each has been growing. The number of generic concessions granted each month has risen to nearly 200 whilst the number of SSPs is approaching 20.

This is the situation at present….. However, there is a threat that shortages might get much worse. This is driven by the voluntary scheme for branded medicines pricing and access (VPAS) and by the rebates paid back by manufacturers of branded and branded generic drugs as part of this scheme.

What proportion of available prescribed products might end up on the shortages list?

Wavedata’s databases contain 51,000 branded, 54,000 generic and 4,000 branded generic product variations. If the 22% and 49% withdrawal figures are anywhere near what might happen, then 11,200 branded and 1,960 branded generic product variations might disappear. Which overall would be about 12.5% of the full list of prescribed products available from pharmacies and dispensing doctors.

This 12.5% figure included branded and branded generics, but excludes generics which are not affected by VPAS. However, we know that nearly 200 generics have been granted concessions due to shortages and that there may be many more which are also difficult to source. Only the pharmacists, dispensers, the PSNC and DHSC will know how many of these products are affected by shortages, and whether our 12.5% figure should be 13% or 20%.

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