This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt – find out what beta means

HMRC internal manual

VAT Health

The zero rate for dispensed drugs: background: what are qualifying goods?

The term ‘qualifying goods’ is defined in note (2A) to Group 12 as ‘any goods designed or adapted for use with any medical or surgical treatment except for hearing aids, dentures, spectacles and contact lenses.’

Any goods ‘designed or adapted’ may include drugs, medicines, appliances and chemical reagents. Where those goods are to be prescribed or dispensed under the NHS, it is for the NHS to decide what a prescriber may prescribe and what a dispensing doctor or pharmacist can dispense. The Drug Tariff lists those drugs and medicines which the NHS will pay for without question and those chemical reagents and appliances which a doctor (but not a dentist) may prescribe on the NHS.

Doctors or dentists may privately prescribe anything which they consider will benefit their patient. The law does not restrict zero-rating to goods prescribed on the NHS only, but you should remember that all five conditions listed in VATHLT6020 must be met before zero-rating is allowed. Consequently, if a doctor dispenses goods privately such as travel sickness pills for travellers, which do not require any prescription, such supplies would not qualify for zero-rating.