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Volume 470: debated on Tuesday 15 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the total difference, in respect of pharmacies in England, between the acquisition price of generic medicines and the reimbursement provided by his Department (a) in 2005-06 and (b) in 2006-07; and what the estimated amount is for 2007-08; (179134)

(2) what the total profit margin of pharmacists was in 2006-07 in respect of the reimbursement of generic medicines;

(3) what profit margin is allowed under the reimbursement arrangements for pharmacies for generic medicines, in line with the Pharmacy Contract.

The community pharmacy contractual framework allows pharmacy contractors to retain £500 million difference between the acquisition price of all medicines and the reimbursement. It makes no distinction between generic and branded medicines. The framework also provides for surveys to assess the level of this retained margin. Surveys in 2005-06 showed a net excess of £411 million on generic medicines, and surveys in 2006-07 showed a net excess of £558 million on generic medicines. Surveys are in progress for 2007-08, but no results are yet available.