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Farron: Use drugs giant fine to create rural pharmacy fund

December 16, 2016 3:39 PM

The government should use the £84.2 million fine given to drugs giant Pfizer last week to support small rural pharmacies, according to South Lakes MP Tim Farron.

Tim is calling for the money to be put into a specific fund and used to help support small, rural pharmacies during the coming winter. Changes made by the government in October means pharmacies will see their funding slashed by more than 7% over the next two years.

Although the government has set up a 'Pharmacy Access Scheme' to support pharmacies, figures uncovered by Tim Farron show that even in Cumbria fewer than one in five pharmacies are eligible for the extra cash. In Cumbria, just 20 of 110 pharmacies qualify for the payment, including just 5 pharmacies from a total of 23 in Tim's Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency.

Pfizer was slapped with the fine by the Competition and Markets Authority for overcharging the NHS for an anti-epilepsy drug.

Tim said: "Drugs companies should not be allowed to fleece our NHS, and I'm glad that the watchdog stood up to corporate interests and fined Pfizer. This money should now return to the front line - to community pharmacies in rural areas.

"Small pharmacies in rural areas provide a vital service, but are now in grave danger of disappearing. As the winter sets in, pharmacies provide a critical first line of defence, helping to keep people away from GPs and A&E services which are already struggling.

"Although this money will not cover the amount that the government has cut from pharmacy budgets, it will provide a vital cash injection for small rural pharmacies. For some rural communities, this additional funding could be enough to keep a small pharmacy open."