18 September 2003 | Robin Parker
The Department of Health is set to overhaul the supply chain for unbranded medicines to give the NHS access to cheaper supplies.
It has come up with proposals for a scheme to replace the existing "maximum price" payment arrangements, by next April.
The previous scheme capped the prices NHS purchasers would pay for "generic" medicines but has resulted in some shortages and reduced bargaining power for buyers.
Under the new proposals, manufacturers of medicines that are in limited supply will have to get the DoH's permission to raise prices.
The scheme is also seeking to differentiate more clearly between manufacturers, wholesalers and community pharmacies that dispense medicines to NHS patients.
Manufacturers and wholesalers will have to submit quarterly information detailing their income from generic medicines, the cost of purchases and their transaction volumes.
The DoH welcomes further comments on its proposals until the end of October.
• More information about the DoH scheme can be found at www.doh.gov.uk/generics