NEWS: Charles Barker aims to keep drug prices fixed

Charles Barker PR has been drafted in to advise UK drug manufacturers, wholesalers and pharmacists on their fight to save Resale Price Maintenance (RPM) - the law protecting price fixing on over-the-counter medicines.

Charles Barker PR has been drafted in to advise UK drug manufacturers,

wholesalers and pharmacists on their fight to save Resale Price

Maintenance (RPM) - the law protecting price fixing on over-the-counter

medicines.



The agency was hired by the Community Pharmacy Action Group, an

association of seven trade bodies formed last week to communicate the

benefits of RPM to the Office of Fair Trading.



The OFT was prompted to investigate the validity of RPM, following

Asda’s high profile campaign to slash vitamin prices last October.



Group member and drug industry body the Proprietary Association of Great

Britain shortlisted Charles Barker and Hill and Knowlton from six firms

two weeks ago (PR Week 26 January).



Charles Barker will argue the association’s case that ditching RPM will

lead to the closure of local pharmacists and the loss of vital services

to local customers.



CAPG Members including the National Pharmaceutical Association, British

Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Company Chemists

Association are surveying their 35,000 members to assess their reliance

on RPM. Charles Barker will then pool the information for use in its

campaign which, according to account director Sue Ashe, will target ‘all

those with input into the OFT’s decision’.



The agency is also planning an internal campaign to educate association

members about the drive to save RPM.



Ashe was unsure if the campaign could influence the OFT’s decision to

review RPM, expected in June. A review will extend the agency’s contract

from four months to up to two years.



‘All we can do is submit information to the OFT showing how much

turnover is represented by OTC medicines,’ she said. ‘The association

was concerned that the whole picture has not been put forward,’ she

added, referring to the drug industry’s wrangle with Asda last year.



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