The Great HRT Disaster – NHS Price Fixing To Blame

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I find this extremely amusing I do. No, not the idea that there are millions of women now screaming at their partners as a result of the change of life – not that sort of amusement. Rather, that there’s a cock up here and near no one will take the correct message from it, learn the right lesson.

Don’t screw with markets.

But that’s just what has been done. HRT is now difficult to find – the actual drugs themselves that is – because the National Health Service decided to fix the price.

Hundreds of thousands of women in the UK have been affected by the ongoing shortage of many HRT products. The products aren’t made in the UK but the shortage is very much a UK thing. Emma Hartley discovers why.

The short version: the UK government messed up.

The slightly longer version: supply problems have been massively magnified by a change to the way the UK prices HRT medication, changes which have also been affected by the Brexit-related fall in the value of the pound.

We can and should go further. If you fix the price of something below that at which people are willing to sell it then that something stops being for sale. That’s it. There is no mystery here. Supply and demand works, this is reality.

When the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), in consultation with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), an arms-length agency operating from Hosier Lane in the City of London and led by Simon Dukes, changed the tariff for these HRT products it did so, the DHSC press office has since told me, because there were pricing fluctuations on the world market.

By pegging the UK price at a certain level it was hoped that the NHS would be able to minimise its bill for these medicines in the face of market uncertainty.

However, what appears to have happened is that the price was pegged at a level where it was simply unattractive for the pharmaceutical companies involved to sell to the UK – and the invisible hand of the market has done the rest.

That’s it and that’s all.

An interesting lesson for the US medical industry perhaps, where Bernie and Lizzie keep telling everyone that they’d save lots of money by the gubmint being able to negotiate (Ha!) drug prices with suppliers.

Also an interesting lesson for all of us of course. The idea that the government knows the correct price of something seems to fail under real world testing….

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jgh
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jgh

“If you fix the price of something below that at which people are willing to sell it then that something stops being for sale.”

Simple. Force them to sell the product. Make it illegal for them to implement their unwillingness. Compell them to sell, and if they don’t, exproporiate the stuff anyway. Evil profitieers, how dare they expect to be able to pay their outgoing with their income from selling their products. This is For The Greater Good dontcha know. They should be satisfied with the warm feeling of providing products for the saintly NHS.

Mr Yan
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Mr Yan

What could possibly go wrong with that plan? Answers please if you are the sort of person that thinks a Labour government will be better than the (equally useless) Tories.

Boganboy
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Boganboy

This is of course precisely the plan adopted to force people to buy wind and solar power.

I leave examination of the results as an exercise for the student.

Gavin Longmuir
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Gavin Longmuir

I don’t understand! The UK has a Conservative Government. Boris the Wonderful is in charge. We all know Conservatives believe in Small Government and Free Trade. Conservatives just love to roll back regulations, and fire bureaucrats, and shut down Quangos.

No, a Conservative Administration would never do anything as Communist and dumb as to fix prices. This must be a dastardly plot on the part of those German manufacturers to punish the Conservatives for implementing Brexit. They did implement a hard-exit Brexit, didn’t they?

Michael van der Riet
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Michael van der Riet

In a decentralised economy, you put people in charge of stuff i.e. you delegate. In a centrally planned economy you control every tiny detail and appoint custodians to custode the custodians and so on right down the the littlest fish. Like good old Winston and his famous “Action This Day” channel for whiners to circumvent the chain of command and jump the priority queue. The PM should be made personally responsible for every jobsworth issuing an opportunistic traffic fine, is that what you’re saying?

Gavin Longmuir
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Gavin Longmuir

Perhaps my lame attempt at sarcasm missed the mark. In theory, Boris J leads an administration which supports smaller government — but that is not what the Conservatives deliver in practice. The government is indeed responsible for the fact that those jobsworths are still employed — and the suffering voter’s only alternative to left-wing Conservatives is further left wing Labour.