HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 21 March 2016

Community pharmacists have ‘professional obligation’ to adopt automated dispensing, says chief pharmaceutical officer

18 March 2016, The Pharmaceutical Journal, Harriet Adcock


England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge gave evidence to the All-Party Pharmacy Group on Wednesday 16 March that community pharmacies should adopt automated dispensing processes, stating “That type of large-scale technology is both safer and more efficient”. Keith Ridge added that the government would soon launch a consultation on hub-and-spoke dispensing, a model “well-established” in other countries.


Further coverage on the planned Government cuts to community pharmacy funding can found in Chemist and Druggist here and here.


England’s revised Cancer Drugs Fund to begin in April

18 March 2016, Pharmaphorum, Richard Staines


Pharmaphorum reports on the newly approved Cancer Drugs Fund which will come into effect in July. The new model means that NICE, the cost-effectiveness body will begin issuing draft guidance on new cancer drugs before they have received marketing approval in the UK. The new arrangements aim to speed up the approval process and give patients faster access to new medicines.


March NCSO/Price Concessions update

18 March 2016, PSNC


The Department of Health granted the following price concessions for March 2016:

The price concession only applies to the month that it is granted.


Drug Pack size Price concession
Bumetanide 1mg tablets (new) 28 £2.50
Celiprolol 200mg tablets 28 £19.83
Celiprolol 400mg tablets 28 £39.65
Cimetidine 400mg tablets 60 £19.99
Clindamycin 150mg capsules 24 £12.49
Desmopressin 10micrograms/dose nasal spray (new) 60 dose £25.02
Ferrous Sulfate 200mg tablets 28 £2.85
Flecainide 50mg tablets (new) 60 £5.61
Flecainide 100mg tablets (new) 60 £5.88
Lamotrigine 5mg dispersible tablets sugar free 28 £7.99
Lercanidipine 10mg tablets 28 £5.99
Lercandipine 20mg tablets 28 £9.85
Mefenamic acid 500mg tablets 28 £10.25
Pioglitazone 15mg tablets (new) 28 £24.00
Pioglitazone 30mg tablets 28 £34.99
Pioglitazone 45mg tablets 28 £39.55
Procyclidine 5mg tablets 28 £14.00


No additional endorsements are required for price concessions.

Please note that PSNC cannot provide details of generic products that are suspected of being affected by generic supply problems unless and until the Department of Health grants a concession.

Contractors will be alerted to any updates through our website and via our e-news email.  If you wish to subscribe to our email list, you can receive an email as soon as any announcements are made.

If you have problems obtaining a Part VIII product or problems obtaining the product at the set Drug Tariff price, please report the issue to PSNC using the online feedback form on the PSNC Website.

If you have been able to source the product, please provide full details of the supplier and price paid. PSNC will investigate the extent of the problem and if appropriate discuss the issue with the Department of Health.

Any further concessions will be posted here on the website.



Parliamentary Coverage


There is no Parliamentary coverage today.


Full Coverage

Community pharmacists have ‘professional obligation’ to adopt automated dispensing, says chief pharmaceutical officer

18 March 2016, The Pharmaceutical Journal, Harriet Adcock


Keith Ridge tells All-Party Pharmacy Group inquiry that error rates suggest hub-and-spoke dispensing is ‘so much safer’ than a traditional system approach


Chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge told an APPG inquiry that evidence suggests that dispensing error rates in England are higher than in countries using an automated system


Community pharmacists have a “professional obligation” to adopt automated dispensing processes, according to England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge.


“That type of large-scale technology is both safer and more efficient,” said Ridge, who was giving evidence to the All-Party Pharmacy Group’s inquiry into primary and community care at Westminster on 16 March 2016.


Ridge said the UK government wants to ensure that the infrastructure within community pharmacy is as efficient as possible. “Among that is ‘hub-and-spoke’ dispensing, something that is well established in some other countries,” he said, adding that the government’s planned consultation on hub-and-spoke dispensing would be launched “very soon”, and would create a level playing field for the sector.


Ridge cited evidence from the literature that suggests error rates in community pharmacy in England are far higher than in countries that have adopted automated dispensing. “With the traditional system approach to dispensing, the error rate in community pharmacy is around 3%,” he said. “In other countries, that rate is much lower: you need several zeros before the decimal place. It is so much safer. At that point it becomes a professional obligation to use those systems.”


Speaking to The Pharmaceutical Journal after the evidence session, Gareth Jones, public affairs manager at the National Pharmacy Association, said Ridge’s statement was “highly questionable”.


“We suspect the chief pharmaceutical officer is not comparing like with like. He should publish the evidence to back up the claim he made to MPs about error rates, or retract his comments,” he said.


Also speaking after the APPG event, Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), said that the use of technology could act “positively” to improve efficiency, quality of care and support a focus on outcomes.


He pointed to the GPhC’s Standards of Conduct, Ethics and Performance, which say that a pharmacy professional has a duty to make the best use of available resources. “[Resources] includes technology, data, time and the capacity and capability of all members of the pharmacy and wider healthcare team.”


But Rudkin added that technology could sometimes bring risks, which need to be managed appropriately. “If pharmacy owners use technology to support the delivery of pharmacy services, they must make sure they continue to meet our standards for registered pharmacies, and this includes identifying and mitigating any risks, and working with the pharmacy team to make sure they have the necessary training and skills to use the technology safely and effectively.”


Ridge made clear at the APPG meeting that his focus was for community pharmacy to make use of “large-scale” automated dispensing technologies. He added that he is concerned about the deployment of smaller scale automation in the traditional community pharmacy setting, arguing that the necessary efficiencies can’t be achieved. “We’re taking about tens of [prescriptions] per hour whereas with large-scale automation we’re talking about hundreds of prescriptions per minute.”


Ridge said that, on average, about 60% of a community pharmacist’s time is spent on dispensing, adding that 95% of community pharmacy funding is spent on supply functions, with 5% going to clinical services. “That, in many ways, is what we are trying to address,” he said. “Pharmacists are trained as clinicians and should be allowed to practice clinically irrespective of setting – whether that’s general practice, in someone’s home, in hospital or within a community pharmacy.”


However, Stephen Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, said that the prospect of losing face-to-face consultations because of the introduction of “robo pharmacies” was terrifying.


Health minister Alistair Burt, who was also giving evidence to the APPG inquiry, sought to reassure Pound that the government considered such consultations as important. “We want pharmacists’ time to be spent on those face-to-face consultations,” he said. “We want the patient who goes to his GP to talk about his medicines to go to his pharmacist instead, because the pharmacist is likely to know more about the medicines. We want face-to-face time to be maximised.”


During the APPG evidence session, Burt confirmed that the Department of Health will extend its consultation on the proposals for the community pharmacy sector until 24 May 2016.


The Department of Health is now expected to hold another round of meetings with stakeholders, including the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, Pharmacy Voice and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.



England’s revised Cancer Drugs Fund to begin in April

18 March 2016, Pharmaphorum, Richard Staines


NICE will begin a new method of assessing drugs on England’s Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) from 1 April, when it will decide whether the medicines on the existing scheme have enough new cost-effectiveness data to support routine funding.


The changes, approved by NICE’s board earlier this week, are in preparation for a new methodology coming into effect from July, when the cost-effectiveness body will begin issuing draft guidance on new cancer drugs before they have received marketing approval in the UK.


NICE said it will appraise drugs transferring from the old fund over the next 18 months, starting with those that have already been assessed.


From July, NICE will begin assessing new cancer drugs ahead of marketing authorisation so any drug given a positive draft recommendation would be funded by the NHS from the point of licence.


If the case for routine use is not clear, and more evidence is needed to prove cost effectiveness, NICE can recommend the drug for temporary, conditional use paid for by the CDF.


The drug will remain available within the fund for up to two years while the manufacturer gathers cost-effectiveness data.


After two years NICE will conduct a shortened review to consider the drug for routine funding on the NHS.


Under existing arrangements, the CDF is funding some drugs rejected by NICE, and some that have yet to be appraised.


The new arrangements are intended to speed up NICE’s decision making and give patients faster access to innovative new cancer drugs.


This will either result in routine funding or, if the company has not been able to demonstrate its case, the drug will be made available on an exception basis only.


NICE said the changes are designed to be fairer to industry and the taxpayer, giving an opportunity for manufacturers make a case for funding while giving patients fast access to drugs deemed to be cost effective.


But the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry trade body’s value and access director, Dr Paul Catchpole, said the changes “confirm a seemingly reduced level of ambition” for providing patients with access to the latest cancer drugs.


Catchpole added that minister for life sciences George Freeman’s Accelerated Access Review, which is considering ways of making new drugs available in the UK, is due to publish findings in April.


This could “provide a further opportunity to consider the UK’s ambition to provide patients with access to all new medicines, in a more coordinated way,” said Catchpole.


The CDF was originally introduced in 2011, and provided £200 million per year for cancer drugs rejected by NICE.


But it consistently overspent and has now grown to £360 million a year, even though NHS England has removed many drugs following additional cost-effectiveness assessments.

HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 21 March 2016

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