HDA COVID-19 Update


The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA) has been working closely with its members and supply chain partners during the COVID-19 pandemic to help ensure patients continue to receive the right medicine, in the right place, at the right time.


The demand for medicines has increased dramatically, both from primary and secondary care, leading to a substantial uplift in the volumes of medicines flowing through the supply chain. Such increased volumes would place strains on healthcare distributors in more normal circumstances, but has done so to an even greater extent in recent weeks, as some wholesaling staff have been self-isolating.


As an Association, we have been working with partners such as the Department for Health and Social Care; NHS England; NHS Improvement; the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency; and pharmacy and pharmaceutical manufacturing trade bodies to identify and mitigate possible impediments to the safe and secure distribution of increased volumes of medicines.


Examples of such measures include:


  • Exceptional Good Distribution Practice (GDP) flexibilities from the MHRA that minimise business burden during the pandemic.
  • The recognition by Government of wholesaling staff as key workers; providing greater access to schooling and eventually COVID-19 antigen and antibody testing.
  • Formal government recognition of the crucial role being played by healthcare distributors in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • An NHS England Standard Operating Procedure for out of hours and weekend access to emergency orders from wholesalers for NHS Trusts.


The priority of the HDA remains the safe and secure distribution of medicines to primary and secondary care, which in itself is predicated on the safety of wholesaling staff. The Association will continue to work with all its supply chain partners during and after the COVID-19 pandemic to achieve these twin aims.