HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 31 October 2016

HDA opinion on Brexit

Dear Sir,


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. As the trade association that represents the companies that deliver 92% of NHS medicines for patients, pharmacies, hospitals, dispensing doctors and the pharmaceutical industry, the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA UK) has a number of concerns that could affect the future sustainability of medicines distribution. As a sector, we have always had the key goals of ensuring the safe, certain and efficient distribution of life-saving medicines for patients across the four countries of the United Kingdom.


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 (EEA). 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 £100m per annum, on current estimates.


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. HDA wholesalers support manufacturers by assisting with market launches for new treatments, ensuring that they are available across the country quickly and comprehensively.


In summary, the ability of British patients to gain access to the latest treatments could be delayed. The UK will further lose its attractiveness for the early adoption of medicines when the European Medicines Authority (EMA) moves to another EU state, with the potential loss of ancillary pharmaceutical services.


In line with many other business sectors, we are concerned about the impact of Brexit on the ability of employers to source appropriately qualified staff. The healthcare sector, from research scientists in pharmaceutical companies, to pharmacists in hospitals and the community, benefit from skilled workers from the EU.


We would not like to see Brexit negotiations ending the advantages of the appropriate freedom of workers to come to the UK. It is also highly important that the UK maintains the parity of qualifications for healthcare professionals that ensures that British regulated healthcare standards are sufficiently aligned with the EU’s equivalents, enabling European health professionals to practise in UK pharmacies, hospitals and GP surgeries, with whom our businesses have long-standing business partnerships and relationships.


We look 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.


Yours faithfully,


On behalf of HDA UK Council:

Steve Anderson, Chair, Phoenix Healthcare Distribution

Jeremy Main, Alliance Healthcare

David Bound, Celesio UK Anup Sodha, Lexon UK

Ian Brownlee, Mawdsleys

Steve Burns, Sangers

Peter Surgenor, UnitedDrug Sangers

Media Summary 


Labour MPs secure Commons debate on ‘cack-handed’ cuts

28 October 2016, Chemist & Druggist, Grace Lewis


Labour MPs have secured a parliamentary debate to contest the Governments plans to cut community pharmacy funding. The cuts will see the funding for community pharmacy’s in England cut by 12%. Julie Cooper, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Community Health, said that the proposals show that the Government does not understand the contribution of community pharmacies to the NHS and local patients. Ian Strachan, Chairman of the National Pharmacy Association said the debate could be of great significance and would provide an opportunity to maintain pressure on the Government to reconsider the funding package.


This was also reported by Pharmacy Business


Keith Ridge: These are ‘difficult and uncertain’ times

28 October 2016, Chemist & Druggist, Annabelle Collins


England’s Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Keith Ridge, has reassured the sector that he wants to ensure the NHS can continue to provide safe and efficient care. He explained that the NHS recognises there are difficult and uncertain times ahead for community pharmacies in England. He added that full details of contractual changes for community pharmacy to further clarify the Governments plans are expected soon.


RPS welcomes Welsh Government’s decision to continue pharmacy funding

28 October 2016, Pharmacy Business


The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has welcomed an announcement by The Welsh Assembly Government to continue funding community pharmacy for the next two years. Suzanne Scott- Thomas, RPS Wales Chair, said the Assembly’s decision is a welcome declaration whilst pharmacists in Wales are worried about the community pharmacy funding cuts in England.


Parliamentary Coverage

House of Commons Questions, Pharmacy



Mr Roger Godsiff: How his Department intends to ensure that (a) no community in England will be left without a pharmacy and (b) that access to pharmacies will improve following funding changes to pharmacies.


Department of Health


David Mowat:

The Pharmacy Access Scheme will protect patient access in areas where there are fewer pharmacies with higher health needs, so that no area will be left without access to National Health Service community pharmaceutical services. Qualifying pharmacies will receive an additional payment, meaning those pharmacies will be protected from the full effect of the reduction in funding from December 2016, compared to others.


A quality scheme will be introduced so that, for the first time, we will be paying pharmacies for the quality of service they are providing to improve services to patients and public.


The Pharmacy Integration Fund will support community pharmacy as it develops new clinical pharmacy services, working practices and digital platforms to meet the public’s expectations for a modern NHS community pharmacy service. The aim of the Fund is to support the development of clinical pharmacy practice in a wider range of primary care settings, resulting in more integrated and effective NHS primary care for patients.




House of Commons Questions, European Medicines Agency

Exiting the European Union


Daniel Zeichner: What discussions he has had with the Department of Health on the UK’s relationship with the European Medicines Agency since the vote to leave the EU.


Department for Exiting the European Union


Mr David Jones:

The Department for Exiting the European Union is working closely with the Department for Health and other interested Whitehall departments to consider the future relationship between the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency and the European Medicines Agency.


Full Coverage

Labour MPs secure Commons debate on ‘cack-handed’ cuts

28 October 2016, Chemist & Druggist, Grace Lewis


Opposition MPs have secured a parliamentary debate for next week to contest the “cack-handed” cuts to pharmacy funding.

The government’s “final package” for community pharmacy – which was confirmed last week and will see the global sum in England cut by 12% in December – will be debated in the House of Commons next Wednesday (November 2).


Labour’s shadow minister for community health Julie Cooper – who ran a community pharmacy for 20 years – said the government’s proposals “show no understanding of the contribution community pharmacies make to patients, communities and to the NHS as a whole”.


Labour MP Michael Dugher, who tabled the latest debate, took to the streets in his constituency in Barnsley East two days ago (October 26) to campaign against the cuts.


He said Wednesday’s vote in the House of Commons would “hold ministers to account for their cuts plan” and allow MPs “from all parties” to have their say on the “cack-handed cutbacks”.


“Even Tory backbenchers are lamenting” the funding proposals, he added.


Conservative MPs seek assurances


A number of Conservative MPs raised concerns in a parliamentary debate last week (October 19) where pharmacy minister David Mowat was forced to defend the planned cuts to the sector’s funding.


Philip Hollobone MP said the government’s proposals are “spreading fear up and down the country”, while Kit Malthouse MP asked for reassurances that “dwindling numbers of rural pharmacies” will be protected by the pharmacy access scheme.


National Pharmacy Association chairman Ian Strachan said the debate could be “of great significance”.


“Whether the vote is won or lost, this is a timely and important opportunity to maintain pressure on the government to reconsider its short and medium-term position,” he added.


The NPA is urging pharmacists to lobby their local MP to take part in the debate.


“If your pharmacy and/or your home is in a constituency of a Conservative MP, you have an extra special part to play,” Mr Strachan stressed.



28 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.”


Keith Ridge: These are ‘difficult and uncertain’ times

28 October 2016, Chemist & Druggist, Annabelle Collins


NHS England chiefs have acknowledged the “difficult” and “uncertain” climate community pharmacists are facing as a result of the 12% cut to the sector’s funding.

England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge wants to reassure the sector “what NHS England’s duty is”, he told C+D in an exclusive interview last week (October 21).


“As a national commissioner of community pharmacy services, I want to ensure the NHS provides safe and effective patient care,” Dr Ridge said.


“I am a person who wants to see change because of all the issues I’ve talked about – including medicines use and outcomes. Pharmacists need to be right at the centre of that,” he said.


A pharmacy integration fund, announced by NHS England (October 20) is “designed to make that happen”, he added.


Dr Ridge acknowledged that “some people have some very strong views about me at the moment”, and said NHS England “recognises these are difficult and uncertain times”.


The commissioner’s ongoing review of services, led by King’s Fund director of policy Richard Murray, is expected to be published “later in the year” and will “impact on the deployment of the integration fund”, he added.


More details to come


“Full details of contractual changes [for community pharmacy are] coming,” Dr Ridge stressed, which will further clarify the government’s plans. More details of the pharmacy access scheme will also be published in December, he added.


“Local and regional [NHS England] teams will be working with contractors to keep them informed, supported and prepared for the changes,” he said.


RPS welcomes Welsh Government’s decision to continue pharmacy funding

28 October 2016, Pharmacy Business


The Welsh Assembly Government’s decision to continue funding community pharmacy for the next two years has been welcomed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.


RPS Wales chair Suzanne Scott-Thomas said the Assembly’s decision was “testament to excellent patient care that pharmacists are providing to patients and the public” in the country.


“This is a welcome intervention from the Cabinet Secretary at a time when pharmacists in Wales are concerned about funding reductions in England,” she said.


“We know pharmacists who live in Wales but work in England, as well as those who work for companies who have a large presence in England will be  feeling very concerned about the future. The RPS is working across Great Britain to make the case for community pharmacy.”


Scott-Thomas added: “The two-year commitment to funding community pharmacy in Wales is a testament to excellent patient care that pharmacists are providing to patients and the public.


“Pharmacists can do even more. We would like the ‘Choose Pharmacy’ campaign to be developed into  a national common ailments services scheme.


“This coupled with a National Patient Behaviour Change campaign would do a lot to relieve pressure on GP surgeries and A&E departments.”

HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 31 October 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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