26 April 2007
Drugs company Pfizer insists buyers will not suffer price increases as a result of its distribution changes.
Last month the company began selling prescription drugs through just one wholesaler, Unichem. This move, together with proposed changes by other suppliers, prompted the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to launch a study earlier this month into the distribution of medicines in the UK.
Geoffrey Steadman, a principal case officer at the OFT, told SM
there was concern a single wholesaler could increase drug prices because of the lack of competition.
He added: "Stakeholders in the market have argued that the Pfizer arrangements and others of that type have the potential to increase costs to the NHS or otherwise worsen the service that's provided to pharmacies."
A Pfizer spokeswoman said the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and the Department of Health had both confirmed the new arrangements would not negatively impact on purchase profit. She added Pfizer would co-operate fully with the OFT's study.
The NHS spends over £10 billion per year on prescription medicines and UK pharmacies provide more than 800 million prescriptions.