(2) whether his Department has agreed with medicines manufacturers stock compensation arrangements for pharmaceutical wholesalers when the new pharmaceutical price regulation scheme is implemented;
(3) whether his Department has conducted an assessment of the effects of the new pharmaceutical price regulation scheme on the availability of medicines.
Implementation of the price cut has been delayed until February 2009 to allow further time for arrangements to be made and to avoid coinciding with the Christmas period. Stock compensation is a matter for pharmaceutical companies and wholesalers to agree. The Department is in regular contact with pharmaceutical companies and wholesalers and does not expect that the implementation of the 2009 pharmaceutical price regulation scheme will lead to shortages of medicines.
However, medicine supply problems can and do occur for a number of reasons and often it is not possible to predict them. The Department of Health and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry have published joint best practice guidelines in order to help manage shortages as and when they arise. These guidelines give guidance to companies on what to do in the event of a shortage and recommend that companies communicate with the Department as soon as possible about impending shortages that are likely to have an impact on patient care.