Does the NHS not have a duty to buy medicines in the most cost-effective way? If not, why not?

This is a story about the failure of the Tories’ fragmented, ready-for-privatisation NHS.

If the service had any proper, nationwide direction, then trusts would be sharing information on the most cost-effective sources of medicines.

But of course that wouldn’t make money for Tory-supporting investors in pharmaceuticals.

And it makes big money – the BBC TV news report this evening (May 26) mentioned medicines being sold for £3,200 that could be found elsewhere for just £1.

My understanding, from that  report, is that the overcharging relates to medicines that are needed quickly.

The demand might be sudden and urgent, but the supply doesn’t have to be. It seems to me that these medicines are cheap enough to make and should therefore be available at any time – with no need to charge the Earth for supplying them.

But then, that’s not good business. And the Conservatives – who are running the NHS at the moment – are the Party of Business (we’re told).

Perhaps there are grounds to suggest a conflict of interest?

The owner of Boots has rejected claims it overcharged the NHS for a mouthwash used by cancer patients.

An investigation by the Times newspaper said the high street chemist charged the NHS £3,220 for the medicinal mouthwash, which can cost £93.

Walgreens Boots Alliance said its businesses complied with the law.

NHS England said pharmacies should seek to secure best value, while ministers have asked the Competition and Markets Authority to consider investigating.

Source: Boots owner denies overcharging NHS

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9 thoughts on “Does the NHS not have a duty to buy medicines in the most cost-effective way? If not, why not?

  1. jaguarjon

    Meds and prices have been a scandal for decades. In France, for example, each pharmacie has a sign asking the customers to accept generic rather than trade mark Meds. The customers are generally happy because they pay less.
    Ask certain chemists in the UK for generics and what you’re likely to get is a blank look. Some GPS aren’t keen to prescribe generics either.
    How medicines are accounted for is bizarre as well. There’s no separate account for meds. The costs are lumped in with items like armoured vehicles which are more of a capital item with depreciation applicable to them.
    The (dis)advantage of accounting this way is that it’s impossible to assess the true annual cost of medicines. This helps a huge amount with disguising overcharging by Big Pharma.

  2. hugosmum70

    some chemists are being cost effective to the detriment of some patients. i have acid reflux… therefore treatment for that is lanzoprazole capsules and gaviscon advance, first off. some while ago, i was given a substitute lanzoprazole. .a generic alternative. i landed up with terrific indigestion and the Dr doubled the dose i was taking, from 15mg to 30mg. the idea being it would be reduced when the original came back on the market. never was reduced back,the reason for the change? was because the patent had run out on the original apparently. still the same. cheap versions do not work as effectively.. back end of last year instead of gaviscon advance i was given a cheaper generic version of that. it was 100 times worse to take, made me feel sick so i elected to buy my own at a cost of around £10 per bottle per month. i am elderly with a bad memory at times, age does that to us. its well documented. i take an antihistamine daily. for years it was a tiny white elongated one.very different from any others i take.. but then they started giving a generic version of that too. but it was small,round and white. my daily tablets are put in a tablet dispenser box that’s timed. i already take 2 little white ones at night. that’s fine. they dont go in the box, but i also take another 2 small round white ones in the daytime. last thing i need is to get mixed up and overdose myself. so i now buy the elongated antihistamine ones myself online. my painkillers were always red capsules. easily distinguishable from the white lanzoprazole capsules. (yes the latter has red writing on, the others dont, but its so tiny and if not thinking straight again, when they give me white version of my painkillers they look like lanzoprazole. and vice versa. my eyesight isnt too good. again i could quite easily take wrong ones.) all because they are trying to keep costs down and use generic (cheaper) versions. plus the white painkillers dont work as well. ive been having to take more of the white ones per day than i was the red ones.(same as my ventolin when they tried giving me a generic version of that i nearly landed in hospital. with asthma attack. these generic meds are going to kill someone. i am not alone. ive spoken to a lot of people on and other forums and im getting others giving me similar stories

  3. Jeffrey Davies

    God lord the bbc bitting it’s masters hand it’s a pity it didn’t show more of the news that would shame the nation whot the tories done Jeff3

  4. Stu

    A US/Swiss Pharmacy (Boots/Walgreen/Alliance) yet again did the same as a US/German Pharmacy (Lloyds/McKesson/Celesio) did and the UK Government shrugs it off as just a small percentage.
    Makes you glad that the TTIP deal broke down but post Brexit deals need to be heavily scrutinised.

  5. Pension60Now

    The under active thyroid medicine Levothyroxine (T4) is cheap. The second tablet delivering another help that the thyroid is not creating, T3 is massively over charged to the NHS, as a result the few lucky enough to get it prescribed are losing it, and the ones who would love that treatment cannot get it. Abroad, the T3 tablets can be as low as 25p per box. In UK the NHS is being charged HUNDREDS OF POUNDS per box.

    The NHS is being overcharged for just about anything and everything.

    Surely this is fraud isn’t it?

  6. Roland

    Under the Tories its buy from PFI and that’s from the in-crowed and they will give you a job when you have lined there pockets and destroyed the NHS

  7. Christine Bergin

    You must have noticed that the main thrust of tory meddling with NHS has been to ensure that whatever collaboration and sharing of expertise was in place was shut down as soon as possible. Less integration meant that private companies had nice rounded packages of profit to take over.

  8. Christine Bergin

    I thought Thatcher put internal markets in place to stop co-operation and collaboration or any kind of sharing of expertise. It sure makes privatization easier

Comments are closed.