News

Media And Political Bulletin – 05 February 2019

Media and Political Bulletin

05 February 2019 

Media Summary

EU imports to be waved through UK customs under no-deal Brexit

Financial Times, James Blitz, 4 February 2019
The Financial Times reports that HM Revenue & Customs announced on Monday that goods shipped to Britain from the EU will be waved through UK ports without checks for a temporary period if there is a no deal Brexit.

In a move aimed at reducing gridlock at UK ports if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, HMRC said it would introduce “simplified importing procedures” for an initial period of one year.

In a letter to 145,000 VAT-registered companies, the UK’s tax collection agency said that, under its plans, companies transporting goods into the UK would be able to defer making a full declaration until after the goods had crossed the border. Companies would also be able to defer paying any duty until the month after import.

Our patients are not stockpiling medicines, contractors tell C+D

Chemist+Druggist, Thomas Cox and Vincent Forrester, 4 February 2019

Chemist+Druggist reports that pharmacy owners have told C+D they have not seen any evidence of patients stockpiling medicines ahead of Brexit. Olutayo Arikawe, superintendent pharmacist at The Priory Pharmacy in Dudley, said while medicines stockpiling has been highlighted in the national media in recent weeks, she has not seen any evidence of it among her patients.

C+D reminds readers that DH has asked manufacturers and wholesalers to stockpile six weeks’ worth of supplies ahead of Brexit, but has warned that pharmacies caught over-ordering medicines will be investigated. Mike Hewitson, owner of Beaminster Pharmacy in Dorset, said this stockpiling further up in the supply chain could be causing some of the medicine shortages in recent months. It also makes pharmacies “more vulnerable to price rises”, he claimed.

This week’s FMD deadline not ‘cliff edge’, GPhC reassures pharmacies

Chemist+Druggist, Vincent Forrester, 4 February 2019

Chemist+Druggist reports that the GPhC reassured pharmacies that Saturday’s deadline to comply with the EU’s medicines scanning law should not be viewed as a “cliff edge”.

GPhC confirmed last month that checking pharmacies are compliant with the FMD will form part of its pharmacy inspections, and it will “use its regulatory powers, including improvement action plans, to ensure pharmacies take action” if they are found to be noncompliant. However, it clarified last week (January 29) that while it will be checking whether pharmacies are compliant, it does “not see the implementation date of February 9 as being a ‘cliff edge’”.

Director of inspections, insight and intelligence Claire Bryce-Smith said: “If during an inspection in the following months we identified a pharmacy that was not meeting all of the requirements relating to FMD, we would be looking to understand the reasons why and seeking evidence that there was a clear plan in place.”

‘FMD is days away – and still no one has explained what the point is’

Chemist+Druggist, The Contractor (independent pharmacy owner in England), 4 February 2019

Chemist+Druggist reports that despite the looming deadline for compliance with the EU’s medicines scanning law, The Contractor is still unprepared – and unconvinced of its benefits, saying it still does not understand how pharmacy staff scanning medicines will make a difference to the supply chain. The Contractor’s thoughts are outlined in the article.

Mylan warns of Carbagen supply shortage until mid to late 2019

Pharmacy Business, Lakshmi PS, 4 February 2019

Pharmacy Business reports that Mylan, manufacturers of Category 1 anti-epileptic medication Carbagen (Carbamazapine), has informed the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) that some preparations of the tablet will be unavailable until mid to late 2019.

The Carbagen 200 mg and 400 mg Immediate Release Tablets will be unavailable until the middle of this year, and Carbagen 200 mg and 400 mg Modified Release Tablets will be unavailable until late 2019.

The patients who are currently using this tablets are suggested to consult their GP or neurologist and switch to an alternative version.

 

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

 

Full Coverage

EU imports to be waved through UK customs under no-deal Brexit

Financial Times, James Blitz, 4 February 2019
Goods shipped to Britain from the EU will be waved through UK ports without checks for a temporary period if there is a no deal Brexit, HM Revenue & Customs announced on Monday.

In a move aimed at reducing gridlock at UK ports if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, HMRC said it would introduce “simplified importing procedures” for an initial period of one year.

In a letter to 145,000 VAT-registered companies, the UK’s tax collection agency said that, under its plans, companies transporting goods into the UK would be able to defer making a full declaration until after the goods had crossed the border.

Companies would also be able to defer paying any duty until the month after import.

HMRC’s announcement follows a promise made by the Treasury last year that, in the event of no deal, the government’s main priority would be to keep trade flows moving rather than maintaining on-the-spot tax collection.

The British Chambers of Commerce welcomed HMRC’s announcement. “These letters to business are important communications and government must do everything it can to let firms know what they’ll need in terms of new documentation to trade with the EU,” said Ronan Quigley, the BCC’s Executive Director for Trade.

Despite HMRC’s efforts, many analysts believe gridlock is bound to happen on both sides of the Channel because the French authorities will feel bound to carry out inspections on incoming goods to protect the single market.

“Even if the [UK] government fixes 100 per cent of the problems on its side of the border, the reality is that will only ever be 50 per cent of the total picture,” said Joe Owen, Associate Director of the Institute for Government. “It’s the French authorities that will determine whether or not parts of Kent become a lorry-park.”

Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, president of the Medef French employers’ group, told the Financial Times last week that a no-deal Brexit next month would bring “chaos” to both sides of the English channel, leading to shortages and long traffic queues.

“We have traded together in the EU for 30 years. Untangling this is very complicated. What’s clear is that if there’s no deal on March 29, it will be chaos.”

In its advice note, HMRC reminded businesses that they need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number to trade after Brexit.

Our patients are not stockpiling medicines, contractors tell C+D

Chemist+Druggist, Thomas Cox and Vincent Forrester, 4 February 2019

Pharmacy owners have told C+D they have not seen any evidence of patients stockpiling medicines ahead of Brexit.

Contractors told C+D last month that shortages of a growing range of medicines, including Adalat and naproxen, were costing pharmacies’ precious time and money.

Olutayo Arikawe, superintendent pharmacist at The Priory Pharmacy in Dudley, said while medicines stockpiling has been highlighted in the national media in recent weeks, she has not seen any evidence of it among her patients.

Indira Panchal, who owns four pharmacies in Bedford, echoed Ms Arikawe’s comments, adding that it would be difficult for patients to stockpile as “GPs don’t give out prescriptions willy-nilly”.

Patients might be stockpiling

Sid Dajani, owner of Wainwrights Chemist in Hampshire, said patients might be stockpiling ahead of Brexit – although he has not seen evidence of this happening among his patients.

“When there’s a rumour that something might be in short supply, some people then start stockpiling,” said Mr Dajani, who is also a Royal Pharmaceutical Society English pharmacy board member.

“Brexit is one of those ‘speculated’ shortages and therefore things have been stockpiled and become in short supply,” he claimed.

“Supply chain problems are here already”

Mike Keen, CEO of Kent local pharmaceutical committee, said while he has not seen any evidence of patients stockpiling ahead of Brexit, he “would not be surprised, as patients will be concerned about their long-term condition management”.

Issues with the medicines supply chain “are already here, and Brexit has not happened yet”, he added.

Shortages have been worsening in certain areas across the country in recent months, he said.

Wholesaler stockpiling could be adding pressure

As part of its “medicines supply contingency planning programme”, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has asked manufacturers and wholesalers to stockpile six weeks’ worth of supplies ahead of Brexit, but has warned that pharmacies caught over-ordering medicines will be investigated.

Mike Hewitson, owner of Beaminster Pharmacy in Dorset, said this stockpiling further up in the supply chain could be causing some of the medicine shortages in recent months. It also makes pharmacies “more vulnerable to price rises”, he claimed.

“I’ve had lots of conversations with patients about Brexit,” Mr Hewitson said. “Lots of them are very concerned about access to their medicines. I had a conversation with one patient with epilepsy, for example, [who] was very concerned about her access to anticonvulsants.

“It was good to be able to reassure her and explain the phenomenal job pharmacies are doing protecting patients’ interests,” Mr Hewitson added.

This week’s FMD deadline not ‘cliff edge’, GPhC reassures pharmacies

Chemist+Druggist, Vincent Forrester, 4 February 2019

Saturday’s deadline to comply with the EU’s medicines scanning law should not be viewed as a “cliff edge”, the regulator has reassured pharmacies.

The Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) requires all UK pharmacies to be able to scan barcodes and check tamper-proof devices on medicines packaging at the point of dispensing from February 9.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) confirmed last month that checking pharmacies are compliant with the FMD will form part of its pharmacy inspections, and it will “use its regulatory powers, including improvement action plans, to ensure pharmacies take action” if they are found to be noncompliant.

However, it clarified last week (January 29) that while it will be checking whether pharmacies are compliant, it does “not see the implementation date of February 9 as being a ‘cliff edge’”.

Director of inspections, insight and intelligence Claire Bryce-Smith said: “If during an inspection in the following months we identified a pharmacy that was not meeting all of the requirements relating to FMD, we would be looking to understand the reasons why and seeking evidence that there was a clear plan in place.”

MHRA wants to help stakeholders comply

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) told C+D this week that it intends to “work with stakeholders to help them achieve compliance”.

It confirmed the position set out in its response to the government consultation on the FMD: that newly introduced “statutory enforcement notices” will be issued to pharmacies in breach of the FMD before considering “criminal proceedings” – which would only happen “as a last resort”.

C+D also exclusively revealed last week that the “majority” of Boots branches, as well as some Lloydspharmacy and Rowlands stores, will miss next week’s FMD deadline.

‘FMD is days away – and still no one has explained what the point is’

Chemist+Druggist, The Contractor (independent pharmacy owner in England), 4 February 2019

Despite the looming deadline for compliance with the EU’s medicines scanning law, The Contractor is still unprepared – and unconvinced of its benefits.

As a contractor, the only thing I’ve done to prepare for the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) is go to a meeting held by my local pharmaceutical committee. There, I learned that not even the speaker was happy about the legislation, and was simply going through the motions.

As I scanned the room (pun intended) I noticed bewildered expressions, huffing sounds, tired questions no one could answer, and basically a blanket of doom and gloom.

“What happens if we decommission a product then the patient doesn’t want it?” Silence.

“How will the General Pharmaceutical Council use its powers to check we’re compliant?” Silence.

My thoughts included: what would happen if we decommission at the point of handing out, and there’s a problem? What will we say to a patient as we try to take back their vital box of furosemide? I know that if we suddenly start suggesting “Oh, we’re looking for fakes,” my lovely patients will assume that all these years we have handed them counterfeit medicines. “No wonder my orlistat hasn’t worked, it’s fake!” will be ringing in my ears.

My other amusing thought was: will we then start categorising our staff as to how fast they can scan? Will the ‘budget level staff’ scan in the blink of an eye and mutter “Have a nice day!” before anyone can say “paracetamol”? Will the ‘elite level staff’ chat throughout the whole scanning process, asking all sorts of unnecessary questions, simply because they are glad that someone can still afford to pay them a visit? Hmm.

Ironically, right after the FMD talk, I went for a scan and shop at the local supermarket. I assumed my scanner would just total the cost. I also assumed the supermarket had done their necessary checks, and my apples and strawberries were indeed real. I had almost finished shopping when my scanner stopped working. It needed charging. All the data was gone. I had to use the conveyor belt.

I still don’t understand how pharmacy staff scanning medicines will make a difference to the supply chain. Does it mean it’ll stop the delivery drivers from opening the totes and adding in fakes? Or will it stop my dispensers from switching the statins to ones they bought from the back of an estate? I’m confused.

By comparison, a no-deal Brexit does look appealing – but only just.

Mylan warns of Carbagen supply shortage until mid to late 2019

Pharmacy Business, Lakshmi PS, 4 February 2019

Mylan, manufacturers of Category 1 anti-epileptic medication Carbagen (Carbamazapine), has informed the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) that some preparations of the tablet will be unavailable until mid to late 2019.

The Carbagen 200 mg and 400 mg Immediate Release Tablets will be unavailable until the middle of this year, and Carbagen 200 mg and 400 mg Modified Release Tablets will be unavailable until late 2019.

The patients who are currently using this tablets are suggested to consult their GP or neurologist and switch to an alternative version.

“The important thing is for anyone who is taking Carbagen to make an appointment to see their doctor and discuss a plan together. Do not leave it until you are low on medication but give yourself plenty of time to have a chat with your doctor or specialist about any risks and how these are best managed,” Professor Ley Sander, Medical Director at Epilepsy Society said.

Novartis, the manufacturer of the alternate brand Tegretol, however, assured that they have enough stock to support the extra demand. DHSC also worked with other agencies and developed a clinical memo, which has been produced to support clinicians in prioritising and switching patients during this period.

As per MHRA guidance, carbamazepine belongs to the category 1 anti-epileptic medication group and those who take it should ideally remain on the same brand. The transition to an alternative version need to be done carefully.

Media And Political Bulletin – 05 February 2019

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