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Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

Introduction to the Drug Tariff

Drug TariffWhat is the Drug Tariff?

The Drug Tariff is produced monthly by the Pharmaceutical Directorate of the NHS Business Services Authority, NHS Prescription Services  for the Secretary of State and is supplied primarily to pharmacists, doctors surgeries and (twice yearly) to Nurse Prescribers. The Drug Tariff provides information on what will be paid to contractors for NHS Services including both reimbursement (eg. the cost of drugs and appliances supplied against an NHS Prescription form) and remuneration (eg. professional fees/allowances which are paid as part of the NHS pharmacy contract).

The Drug Tariff is also available online on the NHSBSA NHS Prescription Services Website.

A Guided Tour of the Drug Tariff

Using the Drug Tariff may seem daunting at first but it is not difficult if you know where to look for information. This article will guide you through each 'Part' of the Tariff.

The Preface

Take a look at this section each month as it contains valuable information relevant for that edition and the next. It contains additions, deletions and any other alterations to the Drug Tariff. Take careful note of deletions to Parts IXA, IXB, IXC and IXR for if you dispense a deleted product your prescriptions will be returned disallowed.

Click here for PSNC's guide on how to make the most out of the Preface.

Part I

This section states that drugs must be of a suitable standard, appliances must be those listed in Parts IX and X, chemical reagents should be those contained in Part IXR only and refers to Part X for the Oxygen Therapy Service.

Clause 5 deals with Claims for Payment, Clause 5A deals with Claims for Payment for Repeat dispensing Services

Part II

This section states how the payments made to a pharmacy contractor are calculated. It includes guidance on the endorsement requirements, quantity to be supplied, Special Container rules, Broken Bulk arrangements, Out of Pocket Expenses, Drugs requiring reconstitution and the List of Drugs for Which Discount is not Deducted.


Part IIIA sets out the arangements for the dispensing fee and additional fees that contractors can claim.


These are the current fees for Appliance Contractors. Appliance contractors are different from pharmacy contractors. They specialise in the supply on prescription of appliances, in particular, stoma and incontinence appliances. This section is not applicable to pharmacy contractors.

Part IV

Pharmacy contractors must supply medicines in suitable containers where appropriate and are required to provide consumables when dispensing certain products. A payment for containers is made for every prescription (except special containers) supplied where the quantity ordered is outside of the pack size (or a multiple of the pack size).

Part V

This is the deduction (discount) scale. A percentage is deducted from pharmacy contractors monthly payments according to the value of prescriptions dispensed.

Part VIA

This section of the Tariff provides information on the payments for Essential Services. This includes information on the Establishment Payments, Practice Payments, Repeat dispensing Payment and the Transitional Payment. This section also includes information on the ETP /IT Allowances.

Part VIB

This section provides information on the payments for Essential Services that Appliance Contractors receive. This section is not applicable to pharmacy contractors.

Part VIC

This reproduces the Secretary of State Directions (separate directions for England and Wales) for the Advanced services for pharmacy contractors.

Part VID

This states that PCTs in England and LHBs in Wales will be the determining authorities for commissioning and setting fees and allowances for Enhanced Services performed by pharmacy contractors.

Part VIE

This details the arrangements including fee for providing advanced appliance services, and reproduces the Secretary of State Directions (for England) for the advanced appliance services.

Part VII

Following the introduction of a payment system to reflect split pack dispensing (effective 1st July 2012), the Common Pack List was no longer fit for purpose and has now been removed from the Drug Tariff.


These are the basic prices for generic drugs. This Part is further divided into categories:

Category A includes popular generics, which are widely available. The price is based on a weighted average of the List Prices from 2 wholesalers and 2 generic manufacturers.

Category C items are based on a particular brand or manufacturer.

Category M includes drugs that are readily available, where the Department of Health calculates the reimbursement price based on information submitted by manufacturers.

Broken Bulk may be claimed on Category C products or Category A or M products if the smallest listed pack size is equal to or greater than £50 as long as they are not special containers.

Out of Pocket expenses may be claimed on Category C products only.


These are the basic prices for some unlicensed medicines. The pack size listed against a product will be used as the minimum amount for reimbursement. A prescription ordering any more will be paid on the listed pack size plus the 1ml or 1g list price for every additional 1ml or 1g prescribed. For example, a prescription for 200ml of an unlicensed medicine with a Part VIIIB listed pack of 100ml, the price will be calculated as 1x 100ml + 100 x 1ml.

Broken Bulk can only be claimed on Part VIIIB products if they have been extemporaneously dispensed by the pharmacy contractor.

There is a fixed fee (currently set at £20) for dispensing any unlicensed special or import that is manufactured or supplied by a company operating under an MHRA specials licence or importer’s licence. This fee is to cover all costs incurred when sourcing the product. ‘SP’ must be endorsed on the prescription to claim this payment. If a product is extemporaneously dispensed by the contractor or by a 3rd party, costs incurred are covered by another fixed fee (also currently set at £20). ‘ED’ must be endorsed on the prescription to claim this payment. Pharmacy contractors must not include these expenses in the total they put on their monthly FP34c submission document.

Part IXA

These are permitted appliances and dressings. This chapter starts by listing the Technical Specifications for each section of dressings or appliances. The section is simple to use as it is formed set out in alphabetical order, e.g. Absorbent Cottons, Applicators, Arm Slings, Atomizers, Bandages and so on. Only those items listed in this section will be allowed on NHS prescription.

Out of Pocket expenses cannot be claimed on items in this section.

More information is available by clicking on the links below:

Disallowed Appliance list
Reimbursement Arrangements for appliances

Part IXB

This is the Incontinence Appliance section. It is divided into sections covering different components, e.g. belts, sheaths, tubes, etc. When looking for an item first decide which section it may come under, e.g., Incontinence Belts. The sub-section is then divided into alphabetical manufacturers listing their products, codes, pack sizes and prices. At the end of Part IXB is a list of manufacturers together with their addresses and telephone numbers.

Out of Pocket expenses may be claimed on items in this section.

Part IXC

This is the Stoma Appliance section and is similar in layout to the Incontinence section. Again a list of manufacturers and their contact details is included at the end of the section.

Out of Pocket expenses may be claimed on items in this section.

Part IXR

These are the only chemical reagents allowed on a NHS prescription. Only those pack sizes stated will be allowed.

Out of Pocket expenses cannot be claimed on items in this section.

Part X

This chapter deals with the Home Oxygen Therapy Service. The Department of Health have indicated that following the changes to the Home Oxygen Service, this section of the Drug Tariff will be removed in the near future.

Part XII

This provides information on the Essential Small Pharmacies Scheme. Although the scheme continues in Wales the scheme in England ceased on 31st March 2006 and was replaced by a standard LPS Contract.


This section deals with the grant payable to contractors who provide pre-registration training to pharmacy graduates.


This details the reward payments to be made where a contractor correctly identifies a fraudulent prescription and thereby prevents fraud.


This details the payment to contractors to take into account of prescription pricing processing errors related to the Capacity Improvement Programme up to 31 March 2009.

Part XIVC 

This provides information on the devolvement of the global sum and the temporaray safeguarding of payments. 


This section gives details of the transitional arrangements agreed for the new oral liquid methadone payment structure which came into effect on 1st July 2012.

Part XV

In certain conditions, some foods and toiletry preparations have the characteristics of drugs. A board known as the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances (ACBS) advises on the circumstances in which these products may be regarded as drugs. Part XV of the Tariff sets out the approved Borderline Substances. List A is an alphabetical index of the products and List B is an alphabetical index of conditions and those products suitable for the conditions.

Part XVI

This section covers prescription charges, exemptions and examples of the application of charges. It also includes instructions on the Prescription Charge Refund Procedure.


This is the Dental Prescribing Formulary. This list is definitive and only those substances stated will be permitted on Form FP10D. Only items listed in the Dental Prescribing Formulary (Part XVIIA of the Drug Tariff) can be prescribed on Form FP10 (D). Although the Dental Formulary displays products by their generic titles and dentists are strongly encouraged to prescribe generically, a product may be ordered on Form FP10 (D) by its brand name providing that the brand is not listed in Part XVIIIA of the Drug Tariff (the blacklist).

Part XVIIB (i)

This is the Nurse Prescribers' Formulary for Community Practitioners. Community Practitioner Nurse Prescribers are only entitled to prescribe medicines from this list or appliances from Part IX of the Drug Tariff.

Part XVIIB(ii)

Nurse independent prescribers are able to prescribe any licensed medicine including Prescription Only Medicines for any medical condition within their level of experience and competence with some exceptions. They are also now able to prescribe any Schedule 2, 3, 4 or 5 Controlled Drug (except diamorphine, dipipanone or cocaine for the treatment of addiction).


The National Out-Of-Hours Formulary


This section of the Tariff is commonly known as the 'Blacklist'. Any item listed here is not permitted on an NHS prescription.


This is the Selected List Scheme which lists items that may be prescribed under certain conditions. Prescriptions must be marked 'SLS' by the prescriber.


This small section outlines the criteria that was originally used in selecting products for inclusion in the Blacklist/ Selected List.


This section reproduces the Primary Medical Services (Electronic Prescription Service Authorisation) Directions 2008. 

Part XIX

This chapter deals with payments to chemists suspended by direction of the NHS Tribunal.

Drug Tariff Online

Click on the image below to view and search the Drug Tariff online:







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