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Media And Political Bulletin – 10 May 2019

Media and Political Bulletin

10 May 2019

Media Summary

UK hired consultants for no-deal Brexit advice on medicines

Politico, Charlie Cooper, 10 May 2019

Politico reports that consultancy firm Ernst & Young signed a contract with the Department of Health and Social Care in November last year, to “gather data, perform analysis and provide advice relating to continuity of supply within the medicines market under various EU exit scenarios.”

The heavily redacted document, part of a wider government programme assessing the impact of a no-deal Brexit on drug supplies, came into force on November 1, 2018 but was only published online this week.

May shortages update published

Dispensing Doctors’ Association, Ailsa Colquhoun, 10 May 2019

The Department of Health and Social Care has published its supply issues update for primary and secondary care for May 2019. This covers new and ongoing shortages. The list can be viewed in the “Full Coverage” section of this Bulletin.

Pharmacy minister faces mounting concerns over epilepsy drug shortage

C+D, James Waldron, 09 May 2019

C+D reports that pharmacy minister Seema Kennedy said the government will “express its concerns” to suppliers of epilepsy drug Sabril a second time in relation to ongoing regional shortages.

The minister was responding to a parliamentary question from Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston Justin Madders on Tuesday (May 7), who said his constituents continued to have “real concerns” about the availability of the drug.

In the same session, Labour MP for Burnley Julie Cooper criticised the government for “consistently turning a blind eye” to medicines shortages, and claimed “close to 100 commonly prescribed medications are in seriously short supply”.

This was also reported in Pharmacy Business.

 

Parliamentary Coverage
There was no parliamentary coverage today.

 

Full Coverage
UK hired consultants for no-deal Brexit advice on medicines

Politico, Charlie Cooper, 10 May 2019

The U.K. government spent up to £4 million on advice from consultants on maintaining medicine supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to a government contract.

Consultancy firm Ernst & Young signed a contract with the Department of Health and Social Care in November last year, to “gather data, perform analysis and provide advice relating to continuity of supply within the medicines market under various EU exit scenarios.”

The contract runs until September this year and the department said it was continuing to plan for no deal “during and beyond the [Brexit] extension period,” which is due to end on October 31.

The heavily redacted document, part of a wider government programme assessing the impact of a no-deal Brexit on drug supplies, came into force on November 1, 2018 but was only published online this week.

Ensuring no disruption to medicines entering the U.K. in the event of no-deal was a key planning priority for the U.K. government ahead of the original Brexit date of March 29, and remains a primary concern despite the Brexit extension granted by EU27 leaders last month. POLITICO revealed last week that Steve Oldfield, chief commercial officer at the Department for Health and Social Care, has told drug companies that a no-deal exit could still happen but not until October 31 — the extension end-date.

Ernst & Young is one of several firms to which the government has outsourced Brexit-related work. Contracts with a total value of up to £160 million with various firms including Deloitte, Bain and Boston Consulting were published this week, the BBC reported, some of them running until beyond the U.K.’s current exit date and into 2020. Many of the contracts are extensions to existing agreements revealed by POLITICO earlier this year.

The medicines supply contract sets out three timescales during which a Brexit deal might be reached, allowing the winding down of no-deal preparations.

The third and final time period runs from April 1 to September 30. That indicates that when the contract was signed last autumn, Whitehall was working on the assumption that there might be a delay to Brexit. At the time May was insisting consistently that the U.K. would not ask for an extension and would leave on March 29.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our number one priority is for patients to continue to have access to medicines and medical products — whatever the EU exit date or outcome.”

“We only engage with consultants to deliver work that cannot be delivered through existing departmental resources, offering the best value for money for the taxpayer. We are working with industry and other stakeholders to continue robust no deal contingency planning for supply during and beyond the extension period.”

May shortages update published

Dispensing Doctors’ Association, Ailsa Colquhoun, 10 May 2019

The Department of Health and Social Care has published its supply issues update for primary and secondary care for May 2019.

This covers new and ongoing shortages. DDA members can view the detail of the shortages by visiting the Clinical Zone.

New shortages are reported as follows:

Injectables

  • Ancotil (flucytosine) injection
  • Arsenic acid
  • Midazolam injection
  • Pentamidine 300mg in 5mL injection

Orals

  • Cycloserine 250mg capsules
  • Epanutin (phenytoin) 50mg Chewable Infatabs
  • Labetalol tablets
  • Methadone 1mg/ml oral solution sugar free
  • Qlaira tablets
  • Questran Powder for Oral Suspension/Questran Light (colestyramine) 4g sachets
  • Rifadin (rifampicin) 300mg capsules
  • Sabril (vigabatrin) tablets
  • Sinemet (co-careldopa) tablets
  • Thorens (colecalciferol) 10,000i.u./ml oral drops
  • Xanax (alprazolam) tablets
  • Zolmitriptan 2.5mg orodispersible tablets
  • Loestrin 20 and Loestrin 30 tablets

Eye drops/treatments

  • Iopidine (apraclonidine hydrochloride) 0.5% eye drops

 

Pharmacy minister faces mounting concerns over epilepsy drug shortage

C+D, James Waldron, 09 May 2019

The government will “express its concerns” to suppliers of epilepsy drug Sabril a second time in relation to ongoing regional shortages, the pharmacy minister has said.

Seema Kennedy was responding to a parliamentary question from Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston Justin Madders on Tuesday (May 7), who said his constituents continued to have “real concerns” about the availability of the drug.

The minister “told me last month supplies will be resolved by mid-April”, Mr Madders reminded her. “She has now told me in a written answer that supplies will be resolved in mid-May.”

“It seems there is a disconnect between what the minister is saying and what is actually happening on the ground,” he added. “When can she guarantee this drug will be widely available again?”

Pharmacy minister Ms Kennedy responded that the government had already “expressed our great concern to the suppliers about this problem, and we are working alongside them to ensure that, although there is enough Sabril nationally, we get it in the right place at the right time”.

“We will go back to them and express our concern again,” she added.

C+D has contacted Sabril manufacturer Sanofi for more details about the apparent shortages.

“Turning a blind eye to shortages”

In the same session, Labour MP for Burnley Julie Cooper criticised the government for “consistently turning a blind eye” to medicines shortages, and claimed “close to 100 commonly prescribed medications are in seriously short supply”.

“Can the minister assure me today that she understands the scale of the problem and outline the steps she is taking to resolve it?”

In response, Ms Kennedy said the Department of Health and Social Care “takes this extremely seriously” and has a “whole team working on it”.

“There about 12,500 prescribed medicines in this country, with only between 50 and 100 being looked at by the medicines supply team at any one time,” she added.

Media And Political Bulletin – 10 May 2019

From Factory to Pharmacy

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