Special Containers and Whole Packs

Tariff Tips

Special Containers and Whole Packs

Q. I have a prescription for 80g of Aqueous Calamine cream, can I give a 100g? And will I get paid for 100g?

A: The answer to both these questions is ‘yes’ - for the following reason:

Aqueous calamine cream is listed in the England and Wales Drug Tariff (June 2014) with a â–  symbol, indicating a special container. This means that you will automatically get reimbursed for the full 100g, no matter what is dispensed.

This is also the case in the Northern Ireland Drug Tariff which also has the â–  special container symbol.

The Scotland Drug Tariff classes this item as a ‘whole pack’ which is the equivalent of a special container. So contractors in Scotland too will be paid for the 100g tub.

How else can I tell if an item is a special container or not?

There are certain items on prescription that you would not split for specific reasons, such as those outlined in Clause 10 of the England and Wales Drug Tariff. Scotland also uses the same wording.


A Subject to the requirements of the Weights and Measures (Equivalents for Dealing with Drugs) Regulation, 1970, with regard to the supply in metric quantities of orders expressed in imperial quantities, payment will normally be calculated on the basis that the exact quantity ordered by the prescriber has been supplied, except only of those preparations referred to in B below:

B Drugs and Chemical Reagents in Special Containers.

Where the quantity ordered by the prescriber does not coincide with that of an original pack and the drug or chemical reagent is:

(i) Sterile

(ii) Effervescent or hygroscopic, or

(iii) (a) Liquid preparations for addition to bath water

(b) Coal Tar preparations

(c) Viscous external preparations

(iv) Packed in a castor, collapsible tube, drop-bottle, pressurised aerosol, puffer pack, roll-on bottle, sachet, shaker, spray, squeeze pack, container with an integral means of applications, or any other container from which it is not practicable to dispense the exact quantity:

The contractor shall supply in the special container or containers the quantity nearest to that ordered and endorse the prescription form with the number and size of those containers.

A useful tool to quickly find out if a product is classed as a special container is the PSNC’s database of special containers.

If you have any questions about this particular tip or any other drug tariff query you can call Information Services on 0800 783 5709.

Tariff Tip written by Sue Swift, UK Drug Tariff and Information Technician

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