The newly launched NHS Pharmacy First service recommends that uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women be treated with antibiotics by pharmacies. However, are these critical products profitable for pharmacies to buy and dispense?
Wavedata decided to look at three packs of Nitrofurantoin to understand profitability and sustainability. The good news for pharmacies was that the reimbursement prices of the two tablet packs were increased dramatically in July 2023 from about £3 to about £14. This restored these products to profitability, for a while at least. Now however both market and reimbursement prices for these packs have fallen and the tablets have returned to pharmacy unprofitability. Though pharmacies have seen losses with the tablet packs, manufacturers have been getting more than £11 for each pack which means they should be sustainable.
On the other hand, the 50mg capsules pack has been unprofitable for pharmacies right through the last 12 months and their sales value for manufacturers has declined from £5.70 to £4.29. This pack was granted a price concession by the DHSC in 2021 when the average market price fell to a low of £7.44, well above where it now sits.
With the average market price now at £4.29 the pressure on manufacturers must be extreme, although we don’t have visibility of total cost of goods. We can imagine that pharmacies are reluctant to prescribe a loss making product and will be keen to find a profitable alternative.