HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 31 March 2021

Media Summary

There was no media coverage today.


Parliamentary Coverage

Letter to medicines and medical products suppliers

Steve Oldfield, Chief Commercial Officer, Department of Health and Social Care, 30 March 2021

Steve Oldfield, Chief Commercial Officer at DHSC, has written to industry and the wider supply chain setting out the Government’s latest advice and guidance on supply of medical goods:

  • He said that they had not seen the level of disruption to supply that underpinned planning assumptions, but current levels of preparedness needed to be maintained for some months.
  • He noted the growing third wave in Europe and the likely impact here in the UK, with a “residual risk of COVID-19 impacting global borders”.
  • DHSC has asked NHS Supply Chain to maintain contingency stock in the centralised stock build for the foreseeable future and urged suppliers to continue to hold their UK stockpiles.
  • DHSC has committed to a review of these measures and will report back with recommendations during the summer.
  • The letter urges suppliers to continue preparations to be ready for the introduction of import controls in October 2021 and January 2022.
  • Meanwhile DHSC continues to work with all partners to address the challenges to supply into NI from 1 January 2022.

Challenges and opportunities for UK from new EU pharma policy

European Scrutiny Committee, 30 March 2021

The European Scrutiny Committee has asked the Government for a detailed response to EU plans which could have a significant impact on the way medicines are developed and marketed in the UK. The call for an explanation of the Government’s position comes in the latest regular report by the Committee which scrutinises proposed or new EU legislation that could have an impact on the UK.

The request for information from the Government follows the publishing of the EU’s new, wide-ranging strategy for the future of the pharmaceutical sector, adopted by the European Commission in November 2020. The aim of the strategy is to ensure that EU citizens have access to innovative and affordable medicines, as well as to support the competitiveness, innovative capacity and sustainability of the sector.

The four strands of the EU strategy are:

  • Reviewing and where necessary tailoring incentives, such as patent protections, to satisfy unmet medical needs – for example the need for new antibiotics.
  • Supporting competition and innovation in the sector, by for example simplifying legislation.
  • Focusing on resilience of supply and environmental sustainability.
  • Promoting regulatory convergence and international standards to encourage safe, high quality and affordable treatments globally.

In light of the new EU strategy, and the agreement by the UK and the EU to cooperate in the pharmaceutical sector, the European Scrutiny Committee has written to the Minister of State for Health, Edward Argar MP. The letter said the Committee required from the Minister an outline of the Government’s plans in response to the EU strategy.

The letter also asked:

  • What would be the risks or opportunities for the UK in the event of divergence between UK and EU approaches to pharmaceutical innovation.
  • What opportunities the Government sees for UK-EU research cooperation in the development of pharmaceutical products.
  • Whether the Government sees any benefits for the UK in encouraging other countries to strengthen their regulatory and intellectual property standards.
  • What the Government’s own ideas are for addressing unmet medical needs, ensuring accessibility and affordability of medicines, and promoting innovative, sustainable and patient-oriented pharmaceutical development.

Community pharmacy vaccine service launches

Northern Ireland Executive, 29 March 2021

On Monday Health Minister Robin Swann launched a new community pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination service in Northern Ireland. The new service will see almost 350 community pharmacies throughout Northern Ireland begin to administer the vaccine – at present this applies to those aged 50 years and over. This latest development follows the official opening of the COVID-19 vaccination centre at the SSE arena in Belfast earlier in the day.

Minister Swann said: “Community pharmacy teams have remained dedicated to providing the public with vital health care and support through what have been very challenging times. Pharmacists have a wealth of expertise, skills and experience which makes them very well-placed for delivering the COVID-19 vaccine. The addition of this new service will help speed up the roll-out of the existing programme by increasing capacity and local accessibility to vaccines for the general population, particularly for those who may find it more difficult to travel to one of the mass vaccination centres.”


Full Coverage

There was no media coverage today.

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 31 March 2021

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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