HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 19 February 2016

Sigma Jamaica special: Government risks drug development with austerity measures

Pharmacy Biz, Neil Tranis, 18 February 2016


Warwick Smith, the director general of the British Generic Manufacturers’ Association has stated the drug manufacturing industry will also suffer as a result of funding cuts. The industry body accused the government of risking development of critical life-saving drugs with its austerity measures.


Further coverage on proposed Government reforms to community pharmacy can be found on C&DC&DThe Pharmaceutical JournalThe NPA and P3 Pharmacy herehere and here.


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Sigma Jamaica special: Government risks drug development with austerity measures

Pharmacy Biz, Neil Tranis, 18 February 2016


Warwick Smith, the director general of the British Generic Manufacturers’ Association, launched a scathing attack on the government during the Sigma conference in Jamaica, accusing it of risking the development of critical life-saving drugs with its austerity measures. Community pharmacy will shoulder funding cuts to the tune of £170 million in 2016-17 but, insisting “we’re all in this together,” Smith said the drug manufacturing industry will also suffer. “It takes eight years to develop a biosimilar. It takes an investment of $350 million to produce a biosimilar medicine. We are talking about the sort of investment periods and investment costs that would have been a blockbuster of 10 years ago,” he said. “The PPRS (Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme) reduced a rebate. Rebates are awful, dreadful, evil things. What happens now is these branded generics reduce in price from the originator by, on average, 77%. “And now the government is coming up and saying ‘well we think we might want to take another 15% off you by way of rebate.’ That risks killing off this incredibly important class of medicines that is coming forward. “We’ve urged the government to change the way the PPRS applies. They may take that on board. But for the next two and a half years we have to make the best of a bad job and it really does feel like somebody asking for more when we’ve already basically given away the kitchen sink. We’re facing a perfect storm.” Smith also accused the Labour party of being too weak to hold a first majority Conservative government in nearly 20 years to account. “It’s austerity. Everything that is being done by this government, with one exception, is being driven by austerity. The austerity programme has to win. It’s what they were elected to do,” he said. “It is, if you like, their brand. It has to succeed. So austerity is a big thing for them. It’s also a big thing that this a first majority government in nearly 20 years. “I (used to think) Tory was slang for government. How have things changed? “Here is a government that has got power for the first time in nearly 20 years and it has a bloody awful opposition that is not holding it to account, so it has realised it can do what the hell it likes and realised it can do what the hell it likes to achieve its austerity programme in the first two years of its term, swap Prime Ministers, make up and look good for the next election. “And that’s where the Osborne philosophy comes in. Let’s not make any mistake. A lot of the detail of what’s being driven at the moment is coming out of the Treasury, it’s not really coming out of 10 Downing Street.”


Petition set up to target prime minister over pharmacy cuts, as PSNC warns against strikes

The Pharmaceutical Journal, Emma Page, 18 February 2016


Pharmacists and patients can sign a paper petition set up by the National Pharmacy Association to oppose the 6% cuts to pharmacy funding, chair Ian Strachan announced at the Sigma conference.


The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) will be launching a petition for pharmacy contractors in an attempt to combat the government’s proposed 6% cuts to the community pharmacy contractual framework, chair Ian Strachan told delegates at the Sigma conference in Jamaica on 16 February 2016.


Ian Strachan, chair of the National Pharmacy Association, says the paper petition against the pharmacy cuts is aimed at the prime minister


“This is going to be a petition aimed at the prime minister and this is going to be a petition where we mobilise contractors… and patients,” Strachan emphasised, in his address to the conference via live video link from London.


The paper-based petition was launched on 18 February 2016. The NPA wanted a paper petition so customers at pharmacies could sign it; it will be downloadable and will not be closed to NPA members only. It is to complement the parliamentary e-petition which has already gathered 42,000 signatures.


However, Mike Smith, a non-executive board member at Walgreen Boots Alliance, said he believed the cuts will go ahead regardless of efforts to counter them. “I personally think the £170m is gone, despite the consultation process, but we have to change and work with the Department of Health,” he told the conference.


Amish Patel, a delegate at the Sigma conference, comments: “It almost makes the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s (PSNC) job role defunct… because if [the Department of Health] is going to bulldoze what it wants onto us, there is no negotiating going on.”


Sue Sharpe, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, warned that if pharmacists withdraw services or go on strike, they may lose the support of their patients


However, Sue Sharpe, chief executive of the PSNC, who also joined the conference via live video link, hit back, stating: “Even if your pessimism is well-founded, for goodness sake, we don’t give up without a fight.”


Earlier in the conference, Alistair Burt, minister of state for community and social care, said in a pre-recorded video message: “I would emphasise that our aim is to secure efficiencies and make savings. It is not our aim to close pharmacies.


“In some parts of the country, there may be more pharmacies than are necessary to maintain good access. [Around] 40% of pharmacies are in a cluster where there are three or more pharmacies within a ten-minute walk,” he added.


Mike Dent, chief financial officer of the PSNC, questioned whether 40% of pharmacies are in a cluster where three or more of them are within a ten-minute walk


Mike Dent, chief financial officer of the PSNC, called this figure a “crude generalisation”, saying: “We don’t know if those pharmacies are in that location because that’s where a big GP is, we don’t know whether that’s because of how the population is distributed in those areas, we don’t know if they are busy pharmacies or not, and we don’t know if they service ethnically different populations.”


Smith emphasised the importance of contractors being paid for their pharmacy services. “I think we have to make the case for payment. We have to work together — the days of the lemming-like chase for market share by offering free services is unsustainable.” However, Strachan reiterated that the NPA will defend and protect the supply function of pharmacies.


Sharpe said: “Would I say to people at this stage to start investing to deliver more services from their pharmacies? No, I think that would be premature. We need to understand exactly what they want from us before we would responsibly tell people to start investing more.”


She added that pharmacists should not stop delivering existing services until they “really have to”, warning that if pharmacists withdraw services or go on strike, they may lose the support of their patients.


Launch of new petition to the Prime Minister

NPA, 18 February 2016


New intensity with the launch today of a petition to the Prime Minister.


The campaign to secure the future of local pharmacies is to take on a new intensity with the launch today of a petition to the Prime Minister.

The national pharmacy bodies coordinating the campaign identified the need for a petition of this kind, to complement the parliamentary e-petition which has already gathered tens of thousands of signatures.  Meanwhile, 100,000 campaign postcards are in circulation – the cards are an easy way for patients to appeal to their local MP for support.

The new petition reads:

We, the undersigned, believe that local pharmacies are a vital frontline health service and part of the fabric of communities across England.  Under new Government proposals, many pharmacies could be forced to close – depriving people of accessible medicines advice and other valuable support from trusted professionals.  It would also put more pressure on GPs and hospital services.  In the interests of patient care, we urge the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary to abandon plans that put pharmacy services at risk.


NPA Chairman, Ian Strachan, said:

“This new petition will further intensify efforts to counter the Government’s jumbled and misguided proposals. There is already a parliamentary e-petition in circulation and I encourage people to support it. The petition we are announcing today is different for a number of ‎important reasons. Firstly, it is not targeted at parliament – instead, it will appeal directly to the heart of Government: No 10 Downing Street. Secondly, it is a paper based petition rather than an electronic petition; we know that for many people, including elderly patients, this is the preferred way to express their support.”


PSNC’s Sue Sharpe, said:

“It is vital that everyone in community pharmacy gets behind the campaign to show the value and importance of our services. The national pharmacy organisations are working closely together to align our responses to the plans, and we would encourage all contractors and their teams to support both the paper and the e-petition.”


Rob Darracott, Pharmacy Voice Chief Executive, said:

“With the radical cuts proposed to community pharmacy funding by the Government, the public will be rightly concerned about the future availability of the services upon which they have come to depend. The petition provides the perfect opportunity to give a voice to these concerns and push back against these harmful and dangerous cuts.”


RPS fears cuts can only have a negative impact on patient care

P3 Pharmacy, Sam Healey, 18 February 2016


Royal Pharmaceutical Society has responded to the Department of Health’s consultation on ‘Community Pharmacy in 2016/17 and Beyond’ expressing concerns about the impact the cut in funding will have on patient care.


The RPS believes that ‘alongside these concerns (it) has made the case for investment in the profession which would improve the public’s health and wellbeing.”

“In all our meetings with the Government we have been unequivocal in our concerns about the impact on patient care that could result from these cuts,” said Sandra Gidley, RPS English Pharmacy Board chair.

“We have made it very clear that community pharmacists, as the most accessible healthcare providers on the High Street, must not be diminished. We are extremely concerned the cut has been imposed without an attempt to assess where and how services will be affected.”

“We recognise the need to consider efficiencies across the NHS in order to ensure the best use of resources at this time of growing public demand. We have made a strong case for the development of pharmacy to deliver a greater range of clinical services in new roles that will fulfil the Government’s ambition to put pharmacists at the heart of the NHS, as well as creating efficiency savings across the broader NHS.”

The RPS has submitted a ten point response to the Department of Health’s consultation with pharmacy stakeholders, which closed on Friday 12 February.

Some of the key points include: the recognition that community pharmacy provides the public with the most accessible NHS service in the country, a need for reassurance that the overarching objective of these reforms centres on improving patient access to care and a call for clarity on whether there will be further cuts to the global sum in future years, or any fundamental changes to the contract itself. The RPS has expressed serious concerns that further cuts could destabilise the sector and lead to uncertainty and a lack of investment for the future.


Pharmacy Voice responds to government proposals,

P3 Pharmacy, Sam Healey, 18 February 2016


The decision to announce the cuts to pharmacy with “no impact assessment” and “no route for public comment” means that the involvement of pharmacy bodies is “severely undermined”, Pharmacy Voice declared in its response to the government proposals.


In the response Pharmacy Voice sets out proposals for a more constructive and forward looking approach with the aim of reaching the full potential of community pharmacy.

Echoing the fears of the RPS, Pharmacy Voice stated that the cuts could “increase patient safety risks” and that “community pharmacy is a vital amenity for patients and the public. Pharmacy teams help people to stay healthy and well, and provide crucial clinical services when they are needed.”

The group also announced it is working closely with other sector bodies, in particular PSNC as the recognised body representing community pharmacies in the negotiation process and RPS, to provide a clear and coherent response from the sector that draws on the full scope of our insight and expertise.


Pharmacy Voice seeks commitments from DH

P3 Pharmacy, Sam Healey, 18 February 2016


Pharmacy Voice has come out fighting against the Government’s proposed funding cuts. Chair Claire Ward, speaking today (Wednesday) at Sigma’s annual conference, said the “arbitrary” cuts would “devastate the sector” and not achieve the better patent outcomes and efficiency gains that the Department of Health wants.

“It is simply not acceptable and we will fight it,” she warned. The Department of Health and NHS England had failed to think things through.

However, pharmacy’s leadership bodies would be doing contractors a disservice if they didn’t advise them to prepare for the worst and to make plans accordingly in terms of making savings and protecting cash flow.

Pharmacy had undersold itself for years and Government doesn’t see its value. The DH considers pharmacists merely as “box distributors”, Ms Ward said. “Now is the time for pharmacists to step up to the mark and show what they are capable of.”

She said the Government’s proposals made dangerous assumptions about online access to medicines and a market-based attrition of pharmacies “would lead to the wrong answers”. Neither was hub and spoke dispensing a fundamental game-changer in terms of the economics of the sector, while increasing prescription duration risked dramatically increasing the £300m of medicines wasted each year.

HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 19 February 2016

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