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HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 1 November 2016

Hard Brexit could hit UK drug supplies – wholesalers

31 October 2016, Pharmaphorum, Richard Staines

 

The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA UK) explained in an open letter to the Government that Brexit will threaten the UK’s access to parallel markets. Making it harder for the UK to find and source medicines in the event of shortages. HDA UK has said that Brexit could mean it will become harder for the wholesale and wider healthcare sector to find qualified staff. HDA UK also warned that if the UK leaves Europe’s medicines licensing scheme then new drugs may be delayed in reaching the market in the UK. This could result in nationwide drug shortages and increased drug prices if the needs of the pharmaceutical sector are not listened to during the course of the Brexit negotiations.

 

This was also reported by P3 Pharmacy & Pharmacy Business

 

Cuts to pharmacies are not what the doctor ordered

31 October 2016, The Times, John Ashworth & Michael Dugher

 

Labour MPs have secured a parliamentary debate to contest the Governments plans to cut community pharmacy funding. A Study commissioned by Pharmacy Voice shows that one in four patients would visit their GP if a local community pharmacy was closed. Conservative MPs such as Philip Hollobone and Jason McCartney have voiced their concern about the funding cuts. Currently 2.2 million people have signed a petition that opposes the plan making it the largest healthcare petition in history.

 

This was also reported by  Pharmacy Business

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Hard Brexit could hit UK drug supplies – wholesalers

31 October 2016, Pharmaphorum, Richard Staines

 

A ‘hard Brexit’ could lead to shortages and high costs of medicines in the UK, wholesalers have warned.

 

The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA UK) said Brexit threatens the UK’s ability to participate in the parallel import network operating across the European Economic Area (EEA).

 

In an open letter to the government, HDA UK’s council warned that, should the UK government decide to leave the EU single market and customs union, common trademark regulations may not apply.

 

This would mean UK-based medicine distributors would not be able to dip in to the parallel market easily to find medicines in the event of shortages.

 

HDA UK said in the letter: “In short, parallel imports of medicines into the UK provide both certainty of supply, when there is not enough UK stock (because of a sudden spike in demand), and incentivised purchasing competition which saves the NHS over £100m per annum, on current estimates.”

 

The wholesalers also warned that, should the UK leave Europe’s medicines licensing regime, launches of new drugs could be delayed, or in some cases prevented altogether.

 

Currently the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is based in London, but it remains unclear whether the regulator will stay there after Brexit.

 

The regulator’s presence in London was one of the main arguments the UK pharma industry made in its support of the ‘Remain’ campaign, saying that the EMA’s location and close relationship with the UK’s regulator was attractive to pharma.

 

“Pharmaceutical manufacturers may choose not to market their product in the UK at all due to the associated costs and relatively small population compared to the area covered by the broader European licensing regime,” HDA UK warned.

 

HDA UK added that Brexit could mean UK wholesalers, and the healthcare sector overall, could struggle to find qualified staff.

 

Concluding, HDA UK said it looked forward to working with the government and regulators to ensure UK patients are not negatively affected by the vote to leave the EU.

 

In the run-up to the EU referendum vote in late June, the organisation had not taken sides in the debate, but warned about the potential negative impact of a ‘leave’ vote on medicine supplies.

 

Prime minister Theresa May has said she will officially trigger Article 50 and begin the Brexit process by the end of March next year.

 

BREXIT WILL MAKE IT HARDER TO IMPORT MEDICINES INTO THE UK

31 October 2016, Pharmacy Business, Neil Trainis

 

The Healthcare Distribution Association has written to the government to express its fears that Brexit will make it tougher for UK-based distributors to import medicines into the UK and could increase shortages of vital drugs to patients.

 

In a letter signed by HDA UK council members, which was also sent to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the Association warns the parallel importation of medicines will be made harder if the UK fails to remain in the European Union single market.

 

“We are writing to explain our view that the recent referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU) could have significant consequences for the NHS medicines supply chain in the UK, if certain key issues are not resolved during the Brexit negotiations,” the HDA say in the letter.

 

“Our principal concern regards the ability of our companies to parallel import medicines into the UK, thanks to the common trademarks system operated across the European Economic Area.

 

“If the British government is favouring a Brexit that will see the UK leave the EU Single Market and Customs Union, this could result in the loss of the common trademark regulations, meaning that UK-based medicine distributors would no longer be able to easily and swiftly import vital medicines from the rest of the EEA to service the varying needs of British patients and the NHS.

 

“There is a high probability that this could then result in an increased risk of medicines shortages in the UK and a rise in the cost of medicines for the NHS.

 

“In short, parallel imports of medicines into the UK provide both certainty of supply, when there is not enough UK stock (because of a sudden spike in demand), and incentivised purchasing competition which saves the NHS over £100 million per annum, on current estimates.”

 

The HDA also said it was concerned the loss of pan-European legislation as a result of Brexit will have a detrimental impact on the supply of medicines into the UK.

 

“It is clear that pan-European legislation and regulations have an important public health role in medicines supply, which our sector supports and depends on, including the supply resilience and economic efficiencies created by the scale of the EU market.

 

“Another aspect that could impact British patients and our businesses more generally, regards the medicines licensing regime that currently allows for the common licensing of medicines across the EEA.

 

“The loss of equivalence with these European rules could have substantial consequences on the ability of pharmaceutical manufacturers to bring their products to the UK as quickly as is currently the case.

 

“In fact, pharmaceutical manufacturers may choose not to market their product in the UK at all due to the associated costs and relatively small population compared to the area covered by the broader European licensing regime.”

 

The letter was signed by Steve Anderson (Phoenix Healthcare Distribution), Jeremy Main, (Alliance Healthcare), David Bound (Celesio UK), Anup Sodha (Lexon UK), Ian Brownlee (Mawdsleys), Steve Burns (Sangers) and Peter Surgenor (UnitedDrug Sangers).

 

 HDA UK highlights impact of Brexit on medicines supply chain

31 October 2016, P3 Pharmacy

 

Brexit could result in nationwide medicines shortages and rising medicines prices for the NHS if the needs of the sector are not taken into account during negotiations, the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA UK) has said. The HDA’s Council has published an open letter to the government officials involved in Brexit negotiations, calling for them to consider the impact that a ‘hard’ Brexit (in which the UK leaves the EU Single Market and Customs Union) could have on the safe and effective distribution of medicines.

 

The HDA represents the companies that deliver 92 per cent of NHS medicines. Its main concern, it says, “regards the ability of our companies to parallel import medicines into the UK”, which is currently facilitated by the common trademarks system that applies across the European Economic Area. Leaving the single market could mean that these common trademark regulations no longer apply in the UK, in which case the import of vital medicines would involve a longer, more complicated process.

 

The Council writes: “There is a high probability that this could then result in an increased risk of medicines shortages in the UK and a rise in the cost of medicines for the NHS.

“In short, parallel imports of medicines into the UK provide both certainty of supply, when there is not enough UK stock (because of a sudden spike in demand), and incentivised purchasing competition, which saves the NHS over £100m per annum, on current estimates).”

 

The Council also cites the potential loss of equivalence with the European medicines licensing regime as a factor that could affect patients and businesses, saying that manufacturers “may choose not to market their product in the UK at all due to the associated costs and relatively small population compared to the area covered by the broader European licensing regime.”

 

Finally, the authors voice their concerns about the impact of Brexit on the healthcare workforce: “The healthcare sector, from research scientists in pharmaceutical companies, to pharmacists in hospitals and the community, benefits from skilled workers from the EU”.

 

The letter concludes by saying that HDA UK “looks forward to working with the Government, regulators and supply chain partners to ensure that UK patients are not negatively affected by the vote to leave the European Union”.

 

Cuts to pharmacies are not what the doctor ordered

31 October 2016, The Times, John Ashworth & Michael Dugher

 

On Wednesday Labour will force a Commons vote on government plans to cut funding for community pharmacies.

 

These cuts will slash the budget for local chemists on high streets and in villages across the country by £113 million this financial year and a further £95 million in 2017-18. That’s a huge 12 per cent funding cut on current levels for the rest of this year and 7 per cent next year.

 

Community pharmacies are increasingly important for patients, with over a billion items dispensed last year — an increase of 50 per cent since 2005. Yet previous government estimates said that up to 3,000 — one in four across the country — could be forced to close, but ministers cannot say where the axe will fall.

 

They clearly think they can cut millions from our community pharmacies and get away with it. But we won’t let them off the hook.

 

This cut is bad for our communities and bad for our NHS. Community pharmacies offer patients free medical advice as well as prescription medicine, relieving pressure from overstretched GP and A&E services that are already facing a looming winter crisis.

 

 

Ministers say that savings made from pharmacy cutbacks will be reinvested in the NHS, but cannot say what the additional downstream cost will be to GP surgeries and A&E units.

 

One study, commissioned by Pharmacy Voice, shows that one in four patients would visit a GP if their local chemist faced closure, with this figure rising to four in five for more deprived areas. With a quarter of all patients already waiting a week or more to see their GP, or not getting an appointment at all, GP surgeries simply can’t cope with additional demand on this scale.

 

Don’t just take our word for it. Even some Tory MPs have voiced concerns. The Conservative backbencher Philip Hollobone branded the plan “cack-handed” and Jason McCartney, MP for Colne Valley, told ministers of the new budget: “I just do not have confidence in it”.

 

Peter Bone urged ministers to, “drop this. It is just not worth the battle.” Lord Blencathra lambasted cutbacks as “barking mad” and said that pharmacy cuts “should have no part of Conservative government policy”.

 

Anna Soubry, a former minister, expressed “great concern” and the Tory backbenchers Kit Malthouse, Derek Thomas and Alex Chalk have all questioned the plans.

 

Ministers argue their so-called Pharmacy Access Scheme will protect against closures, but the figures show only around one in ten chemists will benefit from this support, and even those that do will be forced to make a 3 per cent “efficiency saving”.

 

The public remain extremely concerned about the threat to community pharmacies. That’s why 2.2 million people have now signed a petition against the plan — the largest healthcare petition in history.

 

Wednesday’s vote is an opportunity for the House of Commons to have a say. It will coincide with the Local Pharmaceutical Committee conference in London, with pharmacists from across the country coming together to make sure their concerns are heard.

 

MPs from across the House should stand up for pharmacies in their constituencies and for the wider NHS and vote against cutbacks.

 

LABOUR CALL COMMONS VOTE ON PHARMACY CUTS

31 October 2016, Pharmacy Business, Neil Trainis

 

Labour will call a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday on the government’s community pharmacy funding cuts.

 

The sector, reeling from the news that the government is to cut the sector’s budget by 4% and 7% in 2016-17 and 2017-18 respectively, has come out fighting. The PSNC and National Pharmacy Association have said they are considering a legal challenge to the funding reduction and Labour are taking that fight into the Commons.

 

The vote on the cuts, described by the Labour MP Michael Dugher as “cack-handed,” comes as community pharmacies across the country brace themselves for a hard winter and beyond.

 

“The government’s decision to push ahead with the huge funding cut for community pharmacies shows no understanding of the contribution that community pharmacies make to patients, communities and to the NHS as a whole,” said Julie Cooper, the shadow minister for community health who ran a community pharmacy for 20 years.

 

“The NHS is already in the throes of a staffing and funding crisis and forcing community pharmacies to cut back services and close down is short sighted in the extreme, and could have catastrophic effects in the long term.

 

“That’s why Labour is announcing today that we are calling a vote in parliament next week on the cuts to community pharmacies and urging Tory MPs to vote with us to save their local pharmacies”

 

Dugher said: “The government’s plan to cut millions from pharmacies will be a disaster for our NHS and for so many local communities and even Tory backbenchers are lamenting the cack-handed cutbacks.

 

“Cutting community pharmacies is also a complete false economy that will only pile more pressure onto already overstretched GP surgeries and A&E departments at a time when a fresh winter crisis is looming over our NHS.

 

“What we need now is a vote in the House of Commons so that Ministers can be held to account for their cuts plan and MPs from all parties can have their say.”

HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 1 November 2016

From Factory to Pharmacy

As part of our mission to build awareness, understanding and appreciation of the vital importance of the healthcare distribution sector, we developed an infographic explaining the availability of medicines. It identifies the factors that can impact drug supply, as well as the measures that HDA members undertake day in, day out to help mitigate the risks of patients not receiving their medicines.

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