News

Media And Political Bulletin – 03 August 2018

Media and Political Bulletin

03 August 2018

Media Summary

Brexit stockpiling may cause generics shortages and price ‘crashes’

Chemist and Druggist, Thomas Cox, 2 August 2018

Chemist and Druggist states that a wholesaler has warned that the government’s plans to stockpile medicines ahead of Brexit could cause generics shortages and price ‘crashes’ if not properly managed.

The article states that Rajiv Shah, the director of Sigma Pharmaceuticals, told Chemist and Druggist that while it is ‘difficult to predict’ what will happen, based on previous cases of the Department of Health stockpiling generics, there will be ‘some level of shortages and some price rises.’

If the UK requests three months’ worth of stock from overseas and does not “give [manufacturers] ample notice, you will get essential shortages occurring”, he explained.

Then when the stockpile rotation finishes, and the DH decides it no longer needs to hold onto the medicines, excess stock will “flood” the market. This will send prices “crashing down”, Mr Shah warned.

Poll reveals MPs’ attitudes on pharma in Brexit

PharmaTimes, George Underwood, 2 August 2018

The PharmaTimes reports that a new poll of MPs and MEPs has revealed their perception of the pharmaceutical industry within Brexit negotiations and the impact that they believe the UK’s exit from the EU will have on patients. The report reveals that 51% of MPs and 35% of MEPs believe that trade barriers resulting from Brexit could impact the supply of medicines to patients.

The poll also found that most  MPs and half of MEPs would like to have a greater understanding of what the pharmaceutical industry needs from Brexit.

Biosimilars & generics saved NHS £324m last year

Pharmacy Magazine, 2 August 2018

Pharmacy Magazine reports that the NHS has announced that it saved £324 million by switching from using 10 medicines to ‘better value and equally effective alternatives’ in 2017-18 – and that additional savings of around £200 million are expected this financial year.

NHS Improvement, which oversees foundation trusts, NHS trusts and independent providers of NHS-funded care, said that the use of cheaper versions of biological medicines such as biosimilars and generics had helped NHS trusts exceed a savings target of £250 million by £74 million.

Our response to EMA preparedness announcement

ABPI, Press Release, 1 August 2018

The ABPI has issued a press release responding to the EMA’s announcement that it will temporarily scale back and suspend activities in preparation for Brexit. In response, Dr Sheuli Porkess, Deputy Chief Scientific Officer at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said:

‘any disruption is likely to impact on patients across the UK and the EU, therefore it is important for the UK Government and the EU Commission to reach an agreement on post-Brexit arrangements as soon as possible. With 45 million packs of medicines leaving the UK for the EU and 37 million coming the other way every month, 500 million patients across Europe are relying on us to get this right.’

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

Full Coverage

Brexit stockpiling may cause generics shortages and price ‘crashes’

Chemist and Druggist, Thomas Cox, 2 August 2018

The government’s plans to stockpile medicines ahead of Brexit could cause generics shortages and price “crashes” if not managed properly, a wholesaler has warned.

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced last week that he had “asked the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) for options for stockpiling” medical supplies to prepare for “the unlikely scenario” of the UK and the European Union failing to secure a deal ahead of Brexit next March.

While it is “very difficult to predict” what will happen based on previous cases of the DH stockpiling generics, there will be “some level of shortages and some price rises”, Sigma Pharmaceuticals director Rajiv Shah told C+D.

Price “crashes”

If the UK requests three months’ worth of stock from overseas and does not “give [manufacturers] ample notice, you will get essential shortages occurring”, he explained.

Then when the stockpile rotation finishes, and the DH decides it no longer needs to hold onto the medicines, excess stock will “flood” the market. This will send prices “crashing down”, Mr Shah warned.

“You obviously can’t stockpile every single drug that [the DH] wants to because there are so many factors affecting…the supply chain,” he added.“It looks like it’s not going to be smooth sailing [for the sector] if [the DH] decides to stockpile.”

Nevertheless, if managed properly, stockpiling should “safeguard the product for the patient”, while price changes “tend to level themselves out” so the impact on the sector should only be short-term, Mr Shah said.

The DH has not yet asked Sigma to prepare to stockpile for a no-deal Brexit, he said.

Preparing for “every possible scenario”

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) told C+D that manufacturers are “being asked to plan for every possible scenario”.

“By the time the UK leaves the EU, companies will have spent hundreds of millions on complex contingency plans covering all possible scenarios,” the ABPI said.

The trade body would like the UK government and EU Commission to agree “to recognise and use medicines manufactured” in both areas, it stressed.

“This will go a long way to ensuring supply across Europe and will allow industry to focus on a smaller number of medicines which have the most complex supply chains.”

Poll reveals MPs’ attitudes on pharma in Brexit

PharmaTimes, George Underwood, 2 August 2018

A new poll of MPs and MEPs has revealed the perception of the pharma industry within Brexit negotiations and the impact they believe the UK’s exit from the EU will have on patients.

The report, published by Portland, reveals that 51% of MPs and 35% of MEPs believe trade barriers resulting from Brexit could impact the supply of medicines to patients. And although only 14% of MPs and 16% of MEPs believe the pharmaceutical sector takes priority in Brexit negotiations, early half of all MPs (49%) and 56% of MEPs believe that patients should be given greater priority in the negotiations.

Most MPs and half of MEPs would like to have a greater understanding of what the pharmaceutical industry needs from Brexit.

The polling also revealed that that 49% of MPs want to engage with pharma companies (compared to 26% of MEPs), but there is a divide between what Conservative and Labour MPs think Brexit will really mean for pharma.

59% of Conservative MPs agree that the industry behaves in an ethical and responsible manner, but just a quarter of Labour MPs say the same. In total, 43% of MPs trust pharma compared to 23% of MEPs.

However, only 2% of Conservative MPs believe that the industry would face negative consequences because of Brexit, compared to 74% of Labour MPs.

“This is not at all surprising, reflecting the pro-/anti-Brexit balance within both parties,” the report says. “But it does raise a paradox for pharma companies, namely that the industry’s concerns are currently more aligned with the beliefs of an MP cohort that does not necessarily trust them.”

The MP polling was conducted through YouGov and was completed in two phases. The first phase was run between the 16th to 28th January 2018 amongst 100 MPs, including 39 from the Conservative Party, and 53 from the Labour Party. The second phase took place from 12th to 28th June 2018, and was completed by 100 MPs, including 36 from the Conservative Party and 52 from the Labour Party. The MEP polling was commissioned through ComRes and was run from 13th March to 25th May 2018. A total of 76 MEPs took part in the survey.

Biosimilars & generics saved NHS £324m last year

Pharmacy Magazine, 2 August 2018

The NHS has announced that it saved £324 million by switching from using 10 medicines to “better value and equally effective alternatives” in 2017-18 – and that additional savings of around £200 million are expected this financial year.

NHS Improvement, which oversees foundation trusts, NHS trusts and independent providers of NHS-funded care, said that the use of cheaper versions of biological medicines such as biosimilars and generics had helped NHS trusts exceed a savings target of £250 million by £74 million.

To meet this goal, trusts boosted their use of alternatives to 10 expensive medicines used in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers. These cheaper alternatives included infliximab biosimilars, which helped save £99,4000,000 in total, generic imatinib (£66,333,000) and etanercept biosimilars (£50,430,000).

Future goals

Commenting on its goals for 2018-19, NHS Improvement said in a statement: “We’re working with NHS trusts to build on this achievement and make further savings of around £200 million this financial year.

“Around £100 million of this will come from savings generated through using biosimilar medicines as two further original biological medicines come off patent. Biosimilars of trastuzumab, which treats breast cancer, have been commissioned by NHS England as an alternative to the branded medicine Herceptin since Monday 16 July.”

The statement added that biosimilars of adalimumab, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis – and is the medicine on which the NHS currently spends most money – are expected to be available after October 2018.

Keith Ridge: Biosimilars “safe and effective”

NHS England chief pharmaceutical officer Dr Keith Ridge said: “Biosimilar medicines are safe and effective. As we develop a ten year plan for the NHS we will be working to promote their use more widely, enabling the NHS to reinvest hundreds of millions of pounds into innovative new treatments and patient care.”

Steve Barclay MP, health minister for Department of Health and Social Care, said: “We want to support the NHS to make sure every penny is spent effectively. For too long vital funds have been used to buy expensive medicines instead of equally effective and better value alternatives. Under our long-term plan for the NHS, which will see us increase funding by an average 3.4 per cent per year, we need to do better.

“With over £300 million saved and potentially more savings to come, this work is a perfect demonstration of the NHS using taxpayers’ money wisely while still delivering patients with the outstanding care that they need.”

Our response to EMA preparedness announcement

ABPI, Press Release, 1 August 2018

Yesterday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced that it will further temporarily scale back and suspend activities in preparation for Brexit. The EMA said that it expects a staff loss of about 30%.

In response, Dr Sheuli Porkess, Deputy Chief Scientific Officer at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) – the trade group representing the pharmaceutical industry in the UK – said:

“Any disruption is likely to impact on patients across the UK and the EU, therefore it is important for the UK Government and the EU Commission to reach an agreement on post-Brexit arrangements as soon as possible. With 45 million packs of medicines leaving the UK for the EU and 37 million coming the other way every month, 500 million patients across Europe are relying on us to get this right.”

Media And Political Bulletin – 03 August 2018

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