Tuesday, 15 November 2011

ACSM becomes APSM

15th NOVEMBER 2011
The ACSM has changed its name to the Association of Pharmaceutical Specials Manufacturers (APSM) to reflect the clinical nature of its members’ products and services.
As the trade association representing the interests of companies involved in the manufacture of unlicensed medicines, the role and importance of the APSM has grown in recent months as the organisation has provided a conduit for information and advice to the DH in the lead up to the Specials Tariff (published this month).  
Specials account for around 1% of the prescription budget but this can be made up of more than 75,000 different formulations – each designed to meet the specific need of a patient where a licensed medicine is not available. 
Said APSM Chairman, Alan Krol, “Specials serve a vital clinical need, it really is tailored and personalised medicine in every way – no other pharmaceutical manufacturer gets closer to the patient.”
Said APSM Vice Chair, Sharon Griffiths, “Heightened interest in the Specials Tariff has revealed a general lack of knowledge about specials, at every level – including the specialist nature of manufacture.   We are part of the pharmaceutical industry and felt we needed to incorporate this into our name, and also into our descriptor ‘bespoke medicines for special clinical need”.
The APSM represents 16 companies who account for around 80% of commercially produced specials in the UK.   Collectively, these companies have invested more than £150million in innovation and define their role as ensuring the integrity and future of specials in a sector that serves the best interests of the patient.
Members all hold MS specials licence as well as signing up to a code of conduct that mandates various aspects of best practice, such as quality systems, staff training, customer advice lines and labelling and documentation.
For more information visit www.apsm-uk.com

PR CONTACT:  Lyn Wallace / lyn@wallacehcl.com / 020 8995 5354 or 07734 101024

Friday, 28 October 2011


Initial reaction to THE SPECIALS TARIFF is that it appears to reflect the input given by Specials manufacturers to the DH and the ACSM has welcomed its introduction. 
Speaking on behalf of the ACSM (Association of Commercial Specials Manufacturers), which represents 80% of specials manufacture in the UK, Chairman, Alan Krol (pictured left) said, “Over the last two years our members have worked closely with and provided data to the DH about pricing and volumes and we hoped this would be reflected in the tariff.  Although we have only just received the Tariff, we believe that it does represent much of our input and we are all now looking forward to putting it into practice.”
However the ACSM caution, it will take time to fully understand the full impact of the Tariff.  It has been a complex process, so no one can be certain yet if there will be any impact on the quality and continuity of supply, even though in the short term it will do much to restore confidence in the supply chain.
Continued ACSM Vice Chair, Sharon Griffiths, “The Tariff recognises the vital importance of the Specials sector and we need to continue to work together as an industry, with the DH and with our customers to ensure that the Tariff is workable over the coming months.   We hope all those within the supply chain will adopt a sensible and responsible response and use the Tariff to provide stability and transparency within the sector.”
The DH has made it clear that this exercise has always been about eliminating price escalation, rather than about saving money for the NHS.     The ultimate objective is to provide a framework whereby quality and value for money can work hand in hand to the benefit of patients - and the ACSM wholeheartedly supports this.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

'Introduction of a 'Specials' Tariff from November 2011'

News article published 12 October 2011 by the NHS Business Services Authority Website.

'New arrangements for reimbursing specials - Q&A' and also for the 'Proposed Specials Tariff to be published November 2011' have been published. Please click here to view the documents.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Specials tariff will be announced 1st November 2011

It was announced on the 8th September that the PSNC have reached an agreement with the Department of Health regarding the funding settlement package for 2011/12.
From the 1st November this year, a Specials tariff will be introduced as an initial change to the reimbursement arrangements. Further changes will be made throughout the year.
Although we have yet to see the final tariff, we are hopeful that its content may largely reflect the input and existing pricing structures of ACSM members.  If the net result is an end to uncontrolled price inflation within the distribution chain, then this will be a positive thing for the industry and will ultimately have the effect of reducing the overall spend on specials.  As manufacturers, we believe the tariff acknowledges us as a high quality source of supply that is aiming to offer best value for money to the NHS.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Comment on article in Daily Mail Good Health

25th January 2011

Following a recent article in the Daily Mail the ACSM, Association of Commercial Specials Manufacturers, is keen to reassure patients of the need for specials or unlicensed medicines.   The article raised questions about the necessity of providing specially prepared liquid forms of common medicines for some patients. 

Although the ACSM cannot comment on the details of the drug preparation in the article, in general, unlicensed medicines are prescribed by a doctor to meet a patient’s specific clinical need, for example, allergy to drug excipients or inability to swallow. 

In these instances a doctor may decide to prescribe a special if there is no licensed alternative available to give to the patient.  Splitting and crushing tablets is not a satisfactory alternative as it does not always result in the patient receiving the correct formulation leading to a patient getting a much higher or much lower dose than is prescribed.

Anyone who has concerns about the need for their Special prescription is encouraged to talk to their doctor or pharmacists for advice and guidance but should not attempt to formulate their own medicines.


The ACSM, whose members produce a large proportion of the Specials manufactured in the UK, has been consulting with the Department of Health (DH) about a method of controlling the cost of Specials that doesn't compromise the supply to vulnerable patients. As outlined in the article below (Chemist and Druggist), the ACSM looks forward to a solution this year.

The current market structure makes it possible to re-sell Specials through a distribution chain over which neither the original manufacturer nor the NHS has control. In this way, the reimbursement price paid is sometimes decided further down the distribution chain and can be significantly different from the original ex-factory prices.

The ACSM, Association of Commercial Specials Manufacturers, believes resolution will lead to greater transparency within the sector and help eliminate the potential for excessive price inflation within the distribution chain which has affected the industry’s reputation. ACSM members are concerned that negative media attention could threaten the supply of to vulnerable patients in the long term if confidence is not restored in the sector.