News

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 9 September 2021

Media Coverage

EU rejects UK demand to renegotiate N.Ireland protocol
Reuters, 8 September 2021

Reuters reports that the EU’s Brexit coordinator rejected the British demand to renegotiate the protocol, suggesting that the European Union and United Kingdom must resolve problems over Northern Ireland trading using the protocol agreed between them.

European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič said: “Let’s focus on the concrete problem. Let’s not try to renegotiate the protocol. This is definitely not our aim and I believe that we can find the good solution to the outstanding issues.”

Maroš Šefčovič will meet with Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin on Wednesday and visit Northern Ireland on Thursday and Friday. He aims to establish the concrete problems caused by Brexit and how to creatively resolve them.

Boris Johnson told parliament that the protocol in its current form does not protect the Good Friday peace agreement.

Revealed: The most commonly dispensed medicines under SSPs over 18 months
Chemist and Druggist, Grace Lewis, 7 September 2021

The Chemist and Druggist reports that in the first 18 months since the serious shortage protocols (SSP) were introduced, a total of 34 SSPs were issued. This consisted of 12 different SSPs, although some were reissued several times with revised expiry dates.

The article highlights that fluoxetine in 10mg, 30mg and 40mg strengths were the most common SSPs issued between October 2019 and April 2021, amounting to 22 of the total SSPs in that period, according to the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA).

In June, a DHSC spokesperson said: “The government has well established processes to deal with medicine shortages and we work closely with the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency, NHS England and NHS Improvement and others in the supply chain to prevent shortages and minimise risks when they do arise.”

The spokesperson added: “We continue to work closely with the affected suppliers to ensure that the situation is resolved as quickly as possible.”

A survey by the Chemist and Druggist suggested that 88% of pharmacy professionals would welcome a unified approach to medicine shortages across the UK, to allow community pharmacists to make minor amendments to a prescription, “without a protocol, when a medicine is out of stock”.

 

Parliamentary Coverage

4 in 5 people aged 16 and over vaccinated with both doses
The Department of Health and Social Care, The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, and Nadhim Zahawi MP, 7 September 2021

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced that four in five people aged 16 and over in the UK have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

More than half of all teenagers aged 16 to 17 in England have received their first jab in the month that the vaccine has been approved for this age group.

Children aged 12 to 15 who are clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 or who live with adults who are at increased risk of serious illness from the virus are also being contacted by the NHS and invited for their vaccine.

A new campaign has launched this week across social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, as well as on radio stations including Kiss, Capital, Heart, Absolute and LBC to encourage vaccine uptake among younger adults and children eligible for the jab.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “It is a phenomenal achievement that 4 in 5 adults across the UK have now received both COVID-19 vaccines, which have built a wall of defence around the UK and are allowing us to live safely with this virus.”

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “We’re continuing to improve access and encourage uptake – with pop-up centres appearing in places of worship, music venues and sporting grounds – and continued support from major names such as TikTok is fantastic to see.”

 

Full Coverage

EU rejects UK demand to renegotiate N.Ireland protocol
Reuters, 8 September 2021

BRUSSELS, Sept 8 (Reuters) – The European Union and Britain must resolve problems over Northern Ireland trading using the protocol agreed between them, the EU’s Brexit coordinator said on Wednesday, rejecting a British demand to renegotiate it.

European Commision vice-president Maros Sefcovic said on the eve of his first trip to the British province that he was “absolutely convinced” good solutions could be found within the protocol.

“Let’s focus on the concrete problem. Let’s not try to renegotiate the protocol. This is definitely not our aim and I believe that we can find the good solution to the outstanding issues,” Sefcovic told a news conference.

The commissioner, who oversees the EU’s relationship with Britain after it left the bloc, will meet Irish prime minister Micheal Martin on Wednesday and visit Northern Ireland on Thursday and Friday.

He said he aimed to establish from politicians, business people and civil society what concrete problems Brexit had caused and believed there was enough creativity and goodwill to resolve them.

Under the protocol, Britain agreed to leave some EU rules in place in Northern Ireland and accept checks on goods arriving from elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

London has since said the arrangement was not working and wants it changed.

The protocol was intended to protect the EU’s single market while avoiding checks on the border with the Irish Republic, an EU member, which would be anathema to Northern Ireland’s Catholic nationalists, many of whom aspire to a united Ireland.

But – as well as disrupting trade – the perception the protocol undermines Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom has sparked anger in pro-British Protestant communities and helped fuel street violence earlier in the year.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated his government’s stance on Wednesday, telling parliament that the protocol, as it was being applied, was not protecting the Good Friday peace agreement.

“We must sort it out,” he said.

Revealed: The most commonly dispensed medicines under SSPs over 18 months
Chemist and Druggist, Grace Lewis, 7 September 2021

A C+D investigation can reveal the medicines that were most commonly dispensed as alternatives to drugs in short supply between October 2019 and April 2021.

Pharmacists were first granted the ability to supply an alternative strength or form of a medicine suffering a shortage without contacting the patient’s GP in October 2019.

In the first 18 months since the serious shortage protocols (SSP) came into force, a total of 34 SSPs were issued. This consisted of 12 different SSPs, although some were reissued several times with revised expiry dates.

Fluoxetine in 10mg, 30mg and 40mg strengths were the most common SSPs issued between October 2019 and April 2021, amounting to 22 of the total SSPs in that period, according to the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA).

In fact, according to a freedom of information (FOI) request from C+D, the most common medicine dispensed under SSPs in the 18 months preceding April 2021 was fluoxetine 20mg 30 capsules – the recommended alternative strength pharmacists were to supply when 30mg and 40mg capsules were in short supply – with a total of 16,803 of these items dispensed in this period.

Fluoxetine 10mg 30 capsules were the third most commonly supplied medicine under SSPs in the same time period, with 7,081 of these items dispensed in that period. Sulfasalazine 500mg gastro-resistant 112 tablets were the second most dispensed medicine, with 13,268 items dispensed in that period.

See list in full below.

Time for a permanent solution?

When asked by C+D in June whether the DH would consider a permanent solution for the ongoing shortages of fluoxetine, rather than repeatedly issuing SSPs, a spokesperson said: “The government has well established processes to deal with medicine shortages and we work closely with the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency, NHS England and NHS Improvement and others in the supply chain to prevent shortages and minimise risks when they do arise.

“We continue to work closely with the affected suppliers to ensure that the situation is resolved as quickly as possible.”

According to a C+D survey, 88% of pharmacy professionals would welcome a unified approach across the UK when it comes to medicine shortages, so that community pharmacists everywhere can make minor amendments to a prescription, “without a protocol, when a medicine is out of stock”.

However, one commenter warned that making changes at a local level, without the national oversight of the DH’s medicines supply team, could exacerbate medicine shortages.

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin –  9 September 2021

From Factory to Pharmacy

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