Drugs firm with business in Wakefield referred to anti-fraud unit after 'overcharging' taxpayers

Concerns were first raised about the firm last September.
Concerns were first raised about the firm last September.

A drugs company operating in Wakefield has been referred to anti-fraud investigators, after it was found to have overcharged the taxpayer.

Activities by the firm, whose identity is not publicly known, were discussed by Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) last September after "concerns" were raised about how much they were charging for a type of medication at a pharmacy in the district.

The issue was discussed at the CCG's audit committee in February.

The issue was discussed at the CCG's audit committee in February.

The revelations have been made in documented minutes for the CCG's audit committee meeting in February. The minutes will go before the organisation's board tomorrow (Tuesday).

The papers say that after the issue was raised, local health bosses then spoke to a CCG in another part of the UK, where the company also had business.

They said that they had been overcharged for some prescriptions.

The information was passed onto the NHS Counter Fraud Authority, which is now investigating.

Local NHS bodies repay pharmacies for the cost of some medication at a current fixed price of £9. The prescriptions for which this applies are listed on what's known as The Drugs Tariff.

However, some medicines, known as NP8 drugs, are not subject to the same fixed price. Pharmaceutical companies can also ask to be compensated for these, but are not supposed to charge the NHS for any more than the cost of prescribing them.

The papers revealed it was NP8 medicines that were at the centre of the investigation.

The minutes said a member of staff , "Referred to the prescription issue discussed at the September 2018 Audit Committee meeting whereby the Counter Fraud Team are investigating an issue concerning the cost of NP8 (not part 8 of the Drug Tariff) medication charged by a pharmacy in the CCG area.

"Six pharmacies owned by the same company were identified with one other CCG confirming that the endorsements on a number of NP8 prescriptions have been altered and the CCG overcharged.

"Following discussion with the chief finance officer it was agreed to refer the concerns identified at Wakefield CCG and the other CCG where this issue had occurred to the NHS Counter Fraud Authority and the concerns are being investigated.

"The CCG will be kept informed of any progress."

The issue of NHS overcharging has been well documented by the national media previously.

In 2013, the Daily Telegraph reported that drug firms and pharmacists were "colluding" to sell cod-liver oil tablets for £89 to the health service, despite the capsules being publicly available for £3.50.

Local Democracy Reporting Service