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Government tax is ‘contributing’ to medicines shortage, warns BGMA chief


Government tax is ‘contributing’ to medicines shortage, warns BGMA chief

By Neil Trainis

British Generic Manufacturers Association chief executive Mark Samuels has accused the government of “contributing” to the drugs shortage blighting community pharmacy and disrupting patient care by trebling its tax on medicines.

Mr Samuels told Channel 4 News the tax, imposed through the voluntary price access scheme agreed between the Department of Health and Social Care and Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, had trebled from five per cent last year to 15 per cent and warned it could increase again in 2023.

“The government is contributing to the problem. Why has the government removed the tax on sugar when they’ve just trebled the tax on medicines?” he said. The BGMA put shortages down to the increase in energy, shipping and raw material costs.

Former National Pharmacy Association board member Ian Strachan said the medicine shortage had reached unprecedented levels. “I’ve been qualified 40 years now and it’s never been like it is today. I’ve never known a time when it’s been so difficult to access medicines,” he said.

Channel Four News said the list of drugs in short supply tripled in 12 months, with one estimate showing the NHS paid £135,810,000 more for drugs in the last year.

Drug pricing data revealed nearly 1.85 million alendronic acid 70mg tablets were prescribed in July and would normally cost around £290,000 but is now projected to cost £4.9m. Aripiprazole 10mg which normally costs £40,000 for 1.2 million tablets is now likely to cost £3.1m.

Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies chief executive Leyla Hannbeck urged the government to bring together pharmacists, manufacturers and wholesalers to discuss the problem and see if they can “anticipate shortages before they happen".

The Department of Health and Social Care said the UK has some of the cheapest generic medicines in Europe and works closely with the pharmaceutical industry.  

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