NHS England launches ‘non-essential’ medicines consultation
Dispensing Doctors, Ailsa Colquhoun, 24 July 2017

The NHS Clinical Commissions and NHS England have initiated consultations to remove 18 drugs from routing GP prescription. These 18 medicines are either being considered clinically ineffective or where the NHS can provide a clinical alternative that has already been tested. The objective of the review is to guide Clinical Commissioning Groups in their decision making about drugs. The review’s outcomes will not remove clinical discretion. Any savings will be reinvested in improving patient care, according to NHS England.

Drug firms build Brexit stockpile
The Sunday Times, Sabah Meddings, 23 July 2017

British pharmaceutical companies have announced that they will be stockpiling medicines to avert any potential shortages caused by Brexit. British medication, upon leaving the European Medicines Agency, may have to be retested when it lands in the EU, causing shortages of medication in European markets. In response, British firms are considering stockpiling medicines in European storage facilities and warehouses so that, in the event of the ‘hardest of Brexits’, shortages are either prevented or mitigated.

Pay for medicines based on effectiveness, NHS told
The Financial Times, Sarah Neville, 23 July 2017

The NHS should pay for medicines based on their effectiveness, according to a report from the Social Market Foundation (SMF). They also said that drugs that met a specific criteria – such as ‘unmet need’ – should undergo a fast-tracked approval process. In terms of effectiveness, the Social Market Foundation proposed that the NHS negotiate with drug companies to establish effectiveness ‘yardsticks’, the meeting of which would qualify the company for payment. The report also acknowledged that small firms may need a different system, to ensure that they are not put off by uncertain or delayed payment. The SMF noted that a similar proposal was already in place in Italy and currently, there was a central tension between “increasingly constrained spending on the nation’s taxpayer-funded health service and the need to maintain, or accelerate, investment in the UK’s life sciences industry”.



House of Commons Questions – July 21, 2017


Chi Onwurah MP

What assessment the Government has made of the potential effect on the NHS budget of the UK withdrawing from the European Medicines Agency.

Department of Health Response

Steve Brine MP:

As part of the exit negotiations the Government will discuss with the European Union and Member States how best to continue cooperation in the field of medicines regulation in the best interests of both the United Kingdom and the EU. While it would not be appropriate to pre-judge the outcome of the negotiations, the Government’s position was clarified in an open letter to The Financial Times, dated 5 July 2017. In that letter we made clear that our aim is to ensure that patients in the UK and across the EU continue to be able to access the best and most innovative medicines and be assured that their safety is protected through the strongest regulatory framework and sharing of data.


NHS England launches ‘non-essential’ medicines consultation
Dispensing Doctors, Ailsa Colquhoun, 24 July 2017

NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC) and NHS England have launched the consultation to remove 18 medicines from routine prescribing by GPs in England.

The consultation is open from 21 July to 21 October 2017 and, in addition to the initial 18 medicines, the consultation also seeks views on a wider list of 3,200 products that are available over-the-counter, without prescription, that may be appropriate for future restriction.

View the consultation document.

According to NHS England, the NHS currently spends £141 million p.a. on medicines that are considered either:

  • clinically ineffective; unsafe; or not cost effective; or
  • where the NHS can offer a clinically-proven alternative for patients.

The objective of the review is to produce commissioning guidance to support clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in their decision-making, to address unwarranted variation, and to provide clear national advice to make local prescribing practices more effective. The consultation is accompanied by an equality and health inequalities impact assessment, but this contains no specific arrangements for people living in rural areas in which dispensing GPs operate, and where access to a community pharmacy is difficult or non-existent.

NHS England says the proposed guidance would not remove the clinical discretion of the prescriber in deciding what is in accordance with their professional duties.

Any savings from implementing the proposals will be reinvested in improving patient care, NHS England says.


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

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