Ongoing Margins Survey

From 2011 Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) has been working collaboratively with the Department of Health (DoH), the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and the Business Services Organisation (BSO) on the Ongoing Margins Survey (OMS). This survey is based on one that has been performed in England since 2005.

The OMS aims to give an accurate estimate on the level of margin that community pharmacies in Northern Ireland are able to retain from the purchase of medicines. It is managed by a multi-disciplinary group including representatives; from CPNI, DoH and BSO. Additionally, an Independent Assessor, performs and verifies calculations and participates in group meetings.

The Ongoing Margins Survey (OMS) Process

  1. Pharmacy and drug samples are generated by BSO; these are verified by a statistical expert retained by CPNI.
  2. Invoices are initially collected from, copied and subsequently returned to sample independent pharmacies by a private document security company.
  3. Both CPNI and the BSO produce separate databases populated with transactions of drugs in the sample.
  4. Data cleansing and checking are carried out jointly between both organisations.
  5. Supplier discounts are calculated by the BSO from wholesaler statements, which are subsequently scrutinised by CPNI, and applied to their calculations.
  6. Calculations are performed independently by statistical teams within both CPNI and the BSO.
  7. Finally, the margins survey team meet to discuss the results found. The Independent Assessor also meets to offer peer review to all involved parties.

A more detailed explanation of the OMS methodology is available here.