The British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers is asking the UK for a one month grace period for the value-based pricing system.

The new scheme, which is currently scheduled for 1 January next year, was announced in 2010, but the plans remain sketchy at best, with no pilot schemes to test the system yet to be put in place.

But for the British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (BAPW), there are also practical concerns with this ‘big bang’ date.

With increased demand and bad weather affecting wholesaling, distribution and dispensing outlets over the Christmas and New Year period, BAPW said it is concerned that enforcing these new prices for branded medicines at this time will add “unnecessary pressures” on the supply chain.

Martin Sawer, the BAPW’s executive director, explained: “BAPW does not want the resilience of the supply chain to be tested by implementing these price changes overnight whilst having to meet the increased financial and logistical pressures of delivering medicines over the New Year period.

“We are looking for support for our request of one month’s grace similar to the one granted to pharmacies. This would give wholesalers permission to phase out current PPRS prices for one month after the voluntary agreement comes into force, in order to flush older stock through the system and minimise stock credit issues”.

“This pragmatic approach would, we believe, ensure the supply of medicines for patients up and down the UK, at a critical time.”

VBP is set to replace the 55- year old PPRS pricing scheme, which allows pharma to set its own prices, but under a profit cap, and re-negotiate terms every five years. VBP is looking for threw government to set prices from 2014 based on new definitions of value, although some in the industry are concerned it is aiming to lower the drugs bill, and may drive R&D firms away from the UK.