HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 25 February 2016

Statement in response to media coverage on medicine prescribing

Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, 24 February 2016


ABPI stated that the suggestion that prescription drugs are the third leading causing of death is misleading, and not an official statistic. The industry body explained that medicines are developed to address the leading cause of death, but only deliver value when prescribed appropriately.


Further coverage on proposed Government reforms to community pharmacy can be found on C&D here and here, and on The Pharmaceutical Journal here.


Parliamentary Coverage


There is no Parliamentary coverage today.


Full Coverage

MPs debate ‘perverse’ community pharmacy proposals

The Pharmaceutical Journal, Debbie Andalo, 24 February 2016


Ministers speak out against “outrageous” funding cuts in special parliamentary debate.


Government plans to slash £170m from the community pharmacy budget in England in October 2016 are uneconomic and short sighted because patients will turn to over-stretched GP services and hospital casualty departments to fill the gap in care, according to MPs speaking at a special parliamentary debate.


Derek Thomas, Conservative MP for St Ives in Cornwall, who led the debate, said the government’s belief that reducing spending on community pharmacy services will generate savings was “perverse”.


Speaking at the House of Commons on 23 February 2016, Thomas told MPs: “The reform of community pharmacy is not something that we can afford to get wrong. Many community pharmacies are important businesses which have been established for decades – a wrong move by the government could make these businesses unviable.”


The proposed funding cuts do not support the transition from a “supply-based service to a more clinical-based service” – one that patients deserve and that the government desires, he added.


Thomas wants the government to carry out a health, economic and social impact assessment on its proposals to reduce community pharmacy numbers. “Don’t write pharmacy off until you have given them the resources to fulfil their potential,” he told MPs at the debate.


Kevin Barron, Labour MP for Rother Valley and chair of the All Party Pharmacy Group (APPG), described the size of the cuts as “outrageous”


Kevin Barron, Labour MP for Rother Valley and chair of the All Party Pharmacy Group (APPG), described the size of the cuts as “outrageous”, warning that 3,000 community pharmacies could close in England as a result. “That is a quarter of all pharmacies. How will it happen – will that be by stealth or is there some sort of plan? There seems to be no plan whatsoever.”


Roger Mullin, Scottish National Party MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, added: “This cull of pharmacies doesn’t make any sense.”


Oliver Colvile, Conservative MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport in Devon, the government’s pharmacy champion and vice chair of the APPG, said the current consultation on the government’s proposals highlighted the issue of “over-supply of some pharmacies in specific locations”.


He told MPs: “We have some large pharmacy groups who are willing to give up some of their leases on some of their shops… if the government gives them assurance that they will not be given to another chain of pharmacies.”


Many MPs reiterated the pivotal role that community pharmacists play, especially in isolated rural communities, saying they take pressure off GPs, hospital emergency departments and provide crucial support to particularly vulnerable patients who trust them and find them accessible. Stephen Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, said the profession was “performing miracles on the high street”.


But there was concern about government proposals to change dispensing models. Moving towards an American-style system of “commoditised medicines dispensing” would threaten the clinical potential of pharmacists, according to Barron.


Graham Jones, Labour MP for Hyndburn, Lancashire, said pharmacists were being attacked on two fronts — a reduction in government support and by market forces. He highlighted the move towards ‘Amazon-style’ wholesale pharmacies “driven by profit”, adding that not everybody is online or able to support remote arrangements. “This erodes the public services element which pharmacies provide,” he told MPs.


Health minister Alistair Burt told MPs that negotiations were at an early stage and that the proper negotiating process was being followed


Health minister Alistair Burt sought to reassure MPs — and pharmacists — that the negotiations on the 6% budget cut were at an early stage. “Many of the questions [from the debate] are at the heart of these discussions. Not all the answers are available at this stage; we are going through the proper negotiating process.”


Burt acknowledged that the profession had a greater role to play in primary care and public health and reiterated that the £300m being spent via the integration fund provided pharmacists with a route to that end. “That is part of the overall development that we are hoping to make.”


But he added it was wrong to think that cost reductions never brought about improvements to services. “Sometimes change is inspired by necessity and for the better,” he told MPs at the debate.


MPs debate ‘perverse’ community pharmacy proposals

The Pharmaceutical Journal, Debbie Andalo, 24 February 2016


“All medicines undergo rigorous testing for quality, safety and efficacy by global regulators, including the MHRA in the UK. The data is also subject to continuous scrutiny during trials, once licensed and throughout the life of the medicine, including after a patent has expired.”


​​​”The pharmaceutical industry already works closely with the regulators to ensure safety and efficacy of branded medicines. The suggestion that prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death after cancer and heart disease is misleading and this is not a statistic recognised by either the World Health Organisation or the Office for National Statistics in the UK.


“The assessment of a medicine – the benefits and risks it brings to patients as well as the value it provides to healthcare – is an ongoing process.  Innovating companies discover and develop new uses for these medicines over the life of these products, and regulators and health technology assessors continue to update their assessments based on new information. None of these procedures are “weak” or “murky” but by and large published for public scrutiny.


“Data transparency related to medicines is an agenda that our members have been progressing over years with an overall disclosure rate at study end of 92% most recently, and this can be reviewed in published research (1) which we are updating annually.  Moreover, the European Clinical Trials Regulation will make this disclosure mandatory. However, we recognise that the discussion on the evaluation of medicines is timely, and we were pleased to contribute together with many other stakeholders to the ‘Evaluating Evidence’ policy programme of the Academy of Medical Sciences. This dialogue is critical to achieve a shared constructive and progressive framework for the assessment of medicines.


“Medicines have made a profound difference to treatment and care of patients. Not only do medicines not appear in the list of leading causes of mortality for men and women in the UK (2), medicines are developed to address the leading causes which are listed, such as cancer, heart disease, COPD and influenza/pneumonia.  However, medicines can only really deliver their value when prescribed appropriately and in the right healthcare settings, and we work with our regulators, the NHS, healthcare practitioners and patients to deliver that commitment to patients.”

HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 25 February 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.

See the Infographic

Apply to become a Member

Membership of the HDA guarantees your organisation:

  • Access to leading policy and industry forums of debate and discussion
  • Invitations to a range of networking industry events organised through the year, including an Annual Conference and a Business Day
  • Representation on HDA working parties, including the Members’ Liaison Group
  • A daily Political and Media Bulletin and HDA Newsletters
  • Access to HDA policy documents and all sections of the HDA website
  • Branding and marketing opportunities
Apply Now

Already a Member?