Margins survey

Published on: 12th September 2014 | Updated on: 15th March 2022

Part of the agreement for the 2005 contract was that pharmacies would work with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to develop information about purchase prices and margins, and the margins survey was developed over the years following.

From April 2014 BSA has taken over the data gathering stage of the inquiry from Community Pharmacy England; Community Pharmacy England has retained full rights of audit and access. Initially BSA will follow the process developed by Community Pharmacy England as described below; future developments will require Community Pharmacy England’s agreement.

Margins survey process

  • Pharmacy and drug samples are drawn by DHSC; these are checked by a statistical expert retained by Community Pharmacy England.
  • Invoices are collected from the sample independent pharmacies. A database is populated with all transactions of drugs in the sample. Details of low spend surcharges are captured to be factored into the results. This will now be done by BSA; Community Pharmacy England will conduct a mirror inquiry and discrepancies will be reconciled.
  • Data cleansing and checking are carried out jointly by the DHSC and Community Pharmacy England.
  • Supplier discount calculations created by the DHSC from the wholesaler statements are scrutinised by Community Pharmacy England.
  • A separate exercise is conducted to calculate the effect of concession / NCSO lines throughout the year. Data is gathered for all items which have been on concession (100% sample) and the financial impact of these lines is calculated and taken into account in the final margin survey result.
  • The results are calculated by the DHSC and Community Pharmacy England conducts further analysis of the data and audits the answers. Community Pharmacy England also conducts checks for any generics that have not been available during the survey year; where generics are not available but a brand or special has been available, the generic NIC is transferred to brand or special. Once the final answers are agreed between DHSC and Community Pharmacy England, they are used to inform the negotiations for contractual framework funding.

For a more detailed explanation of the Margins Survey methodology Community Pharmacy England has produced the following document:

Summary of Margins Survey methodology

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