The newly launched Pharmacy First scheme includes impetigo in its list of conditions which pharmacies can treat and prescribe for. The main recommended cream for children with impetigo is Mupirocin Ointment Fortunately, this medication is freely available from suppliers for pharmacies to prescribe and dispense, with over eight wholesalers selling it in January.
In January, the average market price was £8.85 and the reimbursement price was £16.04, which means that pharmacies could potentially make a profit of £7.19. However, market prices from the various suppliers varied between £5.25 and £16.03. So actually, the amount of money pharmacies could make varied from £0.01 to £10.79.
Looking at the long-term trend, Mupirocin Ointment 2% 15g appears to be a product that experiences price spikes and shortages. The first spike in the data was in July and August 2016, when concession prices were granted. Then more recently prices rose again in 2022, but this time reimbursement prices managed to stay well ahead, keeping the market profitable for pharmacies.
The occurrence of the two price spikes in 2016 and in 2023, suggests that there is some kind of boom and bust seven year cycle in place. When we have seen these in the past, they tend to link in with production planning and unprofitability. During the period between 2017 and the start of the current price rises in 2021 this product was only marginally profitable, with many months of unprofitability. This period of four years may have discouraged manufacturers and resulted in shortages and the price rises.
Long-term unprofitability for any pharmaceutical product is likely to lead to manufacturer withdrawal, price rises and shortages.