UK prescription drug prices

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In the United Kingdom drugs prescribed under the National Health Service are supplied by pharmacies at a set maximum price. This price bears no relation to the price that the pharmaceutical companies charge the National Health Service, this price is set in negotiations between the individual companies and the NHS. If drug is available over the counter for less than the set prescription charge, doctors will normally suggest patients buy it that way.

The majority of prescriptions dispensed are in fact free to the recipient as most are either on benefit, are eligible for free prescriptions (people such as expectant mothers or the long-term sick) or elderly (the retired).

There is no maximum price for drugs prescribed under a private doctor. The retail price of privately prescribed drugs is set by the pharmacy and it is always best to shop around. Despite the continued availability of private health insurance in the UK, most British people - including the current Prime Minister, David Cameron - use the NHS.

However, due to currency fluctuations some pharmacies and wholesalers have become drug exporters, because they can't make as much money retailing drugs in the UK as selling them abroad.

  • "a group of MPs on the all-party pharmacy group blamed shortages on pharmacists and wholesalers trying to make extra profits selling drugs to Europe, where they can get a better price than in Britain."[1] Because of this drugs companies have restricted the supply of drugs to some pharmacies and this has resulted in drug shortages in the UK.


References

  1. Lives put at risk by shortage of drugs, NHS leaders warn

See also