I fully appreciate concerns regarding NHS 'drug' costs. I would like to assure you that the Government is committed to making sure the supply of medicines to the NHS is as competitive as possible. Community pharmacies and NHS hospitals are encouraged to buy their medicines for the lowest possible cost. If pharmacies are struggling to obtain products for less than the ‘Drug Tariff’ price, they should notify the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee so that they can advocate on their behalf to get a price concession from the Department of Health and Social Care so that pharmacies are not dispensing at a loss.
I am alo aware that there is already an extensive system of prescription charge exemptions in England. This includes provision for people on low incomes who can apply for free prescriptions through the NHS Low Income Scheme, or who get free prescriptions due to the receipt of certain benefits. This system of exemptions means that 90 per cent of prescription items are dispensed without charge.