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HMRC internal manual

VAT Health

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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The zero rate for dispensed drugs: background: concession for private prescriptions

We accept that qualifying goods dispensed by a retail pharmacist to an individual patient on the private prescription of a GP or GDP are for the individual’s personal use when the goods do not form part of the care provided by a hospital or nursing home, and are part of that GP’s or GDP’s primary health care.

This means that private prescriptions written in similar circumstances to those in VATHLT6070 are treated in the same way. For example:

An asthma sufferer self-administers medication via an inhaler on the private prescription of a GP. During a period in hospital for an unrelated condition such as a joint replacement operation the inhaler runs out. The GP writes a new private prescription which is dispensed by a retail pharmacist and the new inhaler is brought by a relative or friend to the patient in hospital. In these circumstances the supply of drugs is zero-rated by concession because the drugs do not form part of the care provided by the hospital.

The private GP of a person resident in a nursing home diagnoses a pressure related sore. The GP writes a private prescription for medication which is dispensed by a retail pharmacist and advises the matron of the home about the nature of ongoing care. The supply of drugs is zero-rated because it forms part of the GP’s provision of primary care.

However, zero-rating would not apply in the following circumstances:

  • Sleeping tablets or pain-killers provided by a nursing home to its residents, which are not prescribed by a GP as part of the GP’s primary care. Such drugs form part of the home’s supply of care.
  • Drugs prescribed by a doctor directing or taking responsibility for secondary care or treatment provided in a hospital. This applies where the doctor is on the staff of the hospital, or the doctor also has a general practice and is brought in to the hospital to prescribe drugs to the hospital’s patients for the care that those patients are receiving from the hospital.