To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services on what basis dispensers of drugs tariff medicines and products are reimbursed; and if he will make it his policy to claw back all discounts which effectively reduce the true cost of the drug tariff items to dispensers below the tariff reimbursement price, rather than introducing an averaging system.
Pharmacists are reimbursed monthly for the cost of the medicines and other products they dispense on the basis of either a price listed in the drug tariff or the manufacturer's list price. Apart from the payment for some medicines and other products on which no discount is available, a percentage is deducted from the monthly total of these prices in order to take account of the discounts which pharmacists can obtain. The level of discount obtained is established by periodic inquiries, agreed between the Department and the representatives of the profession, and reflected in a graduated discount scale published in the drug tariff. The same principle applies to payments made to dispensing doctors.Reimbursement on the basis of actual prices paid, rather than through an averaging system, would remove the incentive to purchase as economically as is consistent with good dispensing practice and we have no plans for such a change.