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HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 27 April 2021

Media Summary

More wholesalers asked to supply rapid COVID test kits in £3m contract

Chemist and Druggist, Aleks Philips, 26 April 2021

 

The Chemist and Druggist (C+D) reports that half of HDA’s wholesaler members are interested in supplying lateral flow devices for the Pharmacy Collect service.

 

Currently, only Alliance Healthcare supplies lateral flow devices to pharmacies in England, and Rowlands pharmacies can access the test kits from Phoenix Healthcare Distribution as part of the Pharmacy Collect service.

 

With an urgent need for lateral flow test mass distribution Alliance Healthcare and Rowlands pharmacies were awarded short-term contracts by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

 

However, Martin Sawer, HDA’s Executive Director, said that “more [wholesalers] are expected imminently”, as a framework agreement was launched last Wednesday (21st April 2021) with the DHSC encouraging more wholesalers and distributors to supply the rapid COVID-19 test kits.

 

On the same day, the DHSC released a contract notice for a “dynamic purchasing system (DPS) for COVID tests logistics services to pharmacies” worth a total of £3,328,000 (exc. VAT). This DPS will run for an initial period of 12 months, according to the DHSC, with the option to extend.

 

There is not a pre-defined number of suppliers that will be given contracts. Instead, public demand for testing will determine whether future contracts can be fulfilled by a single wholesaler or several.

 

The DHSC said in the contract notice that “the national COVID-19 testing strategy has pivoted toward mass population testing.” The DHSC suggested that this requires a collective effort to mobilise a range of viable testing solutions.

 

Exclusive: DHSC reveals procurement shake-up in wake of COVID

HJS, Jack Serle, 27 April 2021

 

HJS reports that the Department of Health and Social Care is standing up a new directorate to improve the supply of medical technology in England and promote UK products abroad.

 

Medtech supplies have been a significant challenge for the Government in the past year, including the availability of ventilators last spring, and the various supplies needed for COVID testing. The COVID pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in Government and distribution, and highlighted weaknesses in global supply chains.

 

Steve Oldfield, the Department of Health and Social Care’s Chief Commercial Officer and Director-General for Commercial and Life Sciences,said the pandemic “has shone a light on the criticality of the Med Tech sector to the effective functioning of the healthcare system”.

 

He said that the new directorate will maintain some of these new attributes – such as stockpiles and new data systems and processes – while others “will be mothballed for use as part of future incident response.”

Parliamentary Coverage

 

House of Commons – Written Question, 19 April 2021

 

Ian Paisley (Democratic Unionist Party, North Antrim): To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether medical devices benefit from the same grace period of medicines in terms of their transport to Northern Ireland from Great Britain; and what steps he is taking to ensure there are no interruptions to the supply of those devices to Northern Ireland.

 

House of Commons – Written Answer, 26 April 2021

 

Edward Argar (Conservative, Charnwood): Medical devices can continue to move into Northern Ireland without checks. Medical devices are goods marked with a conformity assessment marking – for example, the CE mark or UKCA mark, and are regulated under a different set of rules from medicines. As long as medical devices are compliant with the European Union acquis, they can be placed on the Northern Ireland market. Medical devices are not required to comply with the requirements of the EU Falsified Medicines Directive and they are not included in the grace period for medicines.

 

The Department, in consultation with the devolved administrations and Crown Dependencies, is working closely with the health and care system, suppliers and industry to put in place robust measures to help ensure the continued supply of medicines and medical devices to the whole of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland.

 

 Full Coverage

More wholesalers asked to supply rapid COVID test kits in £3m contract

Chemist and Druggist, Aleks Philips, 26 April 2021

 

Half of the HDA’s wholesaler members have expressed an interest in supplying lateral flow devices for the Pharmacy Collect service, as the DH looks to scale-up testing.

 

Alliance Healthcare is currently the sole supplier of lateral flow devices to pharmacies in England – except for Rowlands pharmacies, which can access the test kits from Phoenix Healthcare Distribution – as part of the Pharmacy Collect service.

 

The two were awarded short-term contracts by the Department of Health and Social Care (DH), due to an urgent need for lateral flow test mass distribution, the DH told C+D last week (April 23).

 

However, Martin Sawer, executive director of the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA), told C+D that “more [wholesalers] are expected imminently”, as a framework agreement was launched last Wednesday (April 21) with the DH encouraging more wholesalers and distributors to supply the rapid COVID-19 test kits.

 

That same day, the DH released a contract notice for a “dynamic purchasing system (DPS) for COVID tests logistics services to pharmacies” worth a total of £3,328,000 (exc. VAT). This DPS will run for an initial period of 12 months, the DH said, with the option to extend.

It is understood that there is not a pre-defined number of suppliers that will be awarded contracts, and that public demand for testing will dictate whether future contracts can be fulfilled by a single wholesaler or several.

 

A levelling-off of orders would need to be seen before the government could devise a final procurement approach.

 

“Testing for Coronavirus is a crucial part of the government’s response to the pandemic,” the DH said in the contract notice. “The national COVID-19 testing strategy has pivoted toward mass population testing. To achieve this ambition, a concerted effort to mobilise a range of viable testing solutions is needed.”

 

The government’s test-and-trace programme required “logistics capabilities” to support the “ambition to scale-up and increase the volume of testing available across all pharmacies in England”.

 

The Pharmacy Collect service – which launched on March 29 – allows asymptomatic patients to collect lateral flow test kits free of charge from their local pharmacy.

 

Last week, health secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that “over nine in 10 pharmacies” were distributing the rapid COVID-19 test kits across England as part of the service.

Alliance currently “able to meet demand”

 

An Alliance Healthcare spokesperson declined to say how many test kits it had distributed to pharmacies so far, but said that it is “currently in stock at all of our nationwide service centres and [we] are maintaining good levels of stock availability, with daily replenishment deliveries inbound”.

“Despite the high level of interest, we have been able to meet demand, with most pharmacies receiving their orders within one or two days,” the spokesperson added.

 

However, due to the “large size” of the delivery and storage capability required to distribute the lateral flow test kits, “it is only possible to deliver once per day, per location”, they added.

 

Exclusive: DHSC reveals procurement shake-up in wake of covid

HJS, Jack Serle, 27 April 2021

 

The Department of Health and Social Care is standing up a new medical technologies directorate, after covid exposed vulnerabilities in government and distribution, as well as global supply chains.

 

An internal message from a senior DHSC official leaked to HSJ said there were ”many questions we need to ask about how we regulate, commission and use” medtech off the back of the pandemic, and therefore it is setting up a new directorate.

 

Medtech supplies have been at the heart of some of the government’s biggest challenges of the past 13 months, such as the availability of ventilators last spring, and, throughout, of various supplies needed for covid testing.

 

Medical technologies cover a panoply of products and services. They can range from simple consumables, such as syringes and dressings, to complex equipment like MRI scanners. They also cover the gamut of diagnostics, from home tests to sophisticated lab-based systems, as well as digital health.

 

The message from Steve Oldfield, the Department of Health and Social Care’s chief commercial officer and director-general for commercial and life sciences, seen by HSJ, said the pandemic “has shone a light on the criticality of the Med Tech sector to the effective functioning of the healthcare system”.

 

He adds: “There are many questions we need to ask about how we regulate, commission and use them on an ongoing basis, as well as the opportunity to build an even more thriving Med Tech sector in the UK.”

 

Mr Oldfield admits in the note, sent in recent days, that much of the DHSC’s capability in medical technology, “especially in medical devices, has been stood up on a temporary basis as part of the covid-19 response”.

 

The new directorate will maintain some of these new attributes – such as stockpiles and new data systems and processes – while others “will be mothballed for use as part of future incident response”, he says.

 

DHSC expects the new directorate to focus on six main areas: resilient supply chains; value for money; regulation of safe, high-quality products; sustainability; innovation to improve clinical outcomes; and promoting UK interests in global markets.

 

The department is currently working on the details of the new organisation and will advertise roles within it “in the normal way”, the note says.

 

HSJ has contacted the DHSC for comment.

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 27 April 2021

From Factory to Pharmacy

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