Sir: Closet agreements between the pharmaceutical industry and government to fix the price of branded medicines do not serve the interests of the consumer, whatever David Sharpe of the Community Pharmacy Action Group might think ("Blow for chemists and drug makers as price fixing referred to court", 9 January).
The CPAG's own figures from a 1996 report show that the removal of resale price maintenance could save consumers pounds 180m a year. Moreover, cheaper and more ready access to branded medicines is patently what consumers want. Resale price maintenance (RPM) is simply out of step with the times.
The argument that price fixing is essential to maintain small community pharmacies is also spurious. The Department of Health's essential small pharmacies scheme (ESPS) supports those pharmacies which would not otherwise be viable and so guarantees patient access. The real effect of RPM is to prop up inefficient operators and to deny consumers the benefits of greater competition and choice in the pharmacy sector.