News

Media And Political Bulletin – 11 April 2019

Media and Political Bulletin

11 April 2019

Media Summary

Growth lifted by manufacturers’ rush to stockpile ahead of Brexit

The Times, Gurpreet Narwan, 11 April 2019

The Times reports that a rise in stockpiling activity in the manufacturing sector helped to lift economic growth beyond expectations. The economy grew by 0.2 per cent in February, better than the zero growth rate forecast by economists, according to official figures published yesterday.

The manufacturing sector contributed to about half of overall growth. Amongst others, growth was driven by pharmaceuticals. According to a report published by IHS Markit this month, stockpiling activity reached levels never before seen in an advanced economy.

This was also reported in the Evening Standard.

Brexit causing ‘significant’ generic drug shortages

PMLiVE, Gemma Jones, 10 April 2019

PMLiVE reports that the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has warned that pharmacies in England are reporting a ‘significant’ shortage in some medicines, and it claims that Brexit is mostly to blame. “Community pharmacies are reporting increasing problems sourcing some generic medicines for their patients,” said Simon Dukes, the Chief Executive of PSNC.

To help with this, the PSNC draws up a list of medicines that have been affected each month, and in collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Care, adds a list of concessionary prices for those drugs. The total number of medicines that have been added to the list this month is 96, the highest number since the list was first launched.

However Warwick Smith, Director General of the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) defended his member companies. He told PMLiVE that that the number of products on a concessionary price didn’t indicate “widespread shortages or market failure”.

Record 96 price concessions raise generics shortage concerns

C+D, Isabel Finch, 10 April 2019

C+D reports that the PSNC is becoming “increasingly concerned” about the impact of generics supply issues, after a record 96 price concessions were agreed for March. PSNC director of pharmacy funding Mike Dent told C+D that, “while there have always been fluctuations” in the number of price concessions agreed with the Department of Health and Social Care (DH), the number “peaked” at 96 for March.

The DH stressed that concessionary prices are not necessarily an indication of supply issues with a medicine. It is a priority that “community pharmacies are reimbursed fairly for the products they dispense”, a DH spokesperson told C+D.

Health Secretary urged to investigate epilepsy medicine shortage

pharmaphorum, Joy Persaud, 10 April 2019

pharmaphorum reports that Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been urged to immediately review the epilepsy medicine supply chain, after ongoing problems for patients who are struggling to obtain their treatments.

The Epilepsy Society has been contacted by increasing numbers of distressed patients who “are forced to trawl around pharmacies in search of their drugs”, putting them at greater risk of seizures.

This shortage is not just due to Brexit but has been causing problems for at least a decade, said the charity’s Chief Executive Clare Pelham. “It is simply not good enough for drugs manufacturers to say ‘production issues’ or ‘just-in-time manufacture problems’ and shrug their shoulders whenever a shortage occurs. People with epilepsy deserve better.”, said Pelham.

 

 

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

 

Full Coverage

Growth lifted by manufacturers’ rush to stockpile ahead of Brexit

The Times, Gurpreet Narwan, 11 April 2019

A rise in stockpiling activity in the manufacturing sector helped to lift economic growth beyond expectations.

The economy grew by 0.2 per cent in February, better than the zero growth rate forecast by economists, according to official figures published yesterday. Over the past three months the economy expanded by 0.3 per cent. Analysts were expecting 0.2 per cent.

The manufacturing sector contributed to about half of overall growth. Output rose by 0.9 per cent in the month, the highest level since the crash in 2008. Growth was driven by pharmaceuticals, food products and chemicals, partially offset by a fall in motor vehicle production.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there was anecdotal evidence that “manufacturing businesses changed the timing of their activity as we approached the original planned date for the UK’s departure from the European Union”.

A series of economic surveys have indicated that manufacturers are stockpiling imported raw materials and finished goods to pre-empt disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit. According to a report published by IHS Markit this month, stockpiling activity reached levels never before seen in an advanced economy.

Economists and trade bodies have warned that stockpiling will provide only a temporary boost because producers will run down their stocks once the risks pass.

In its latest World Economic Outlook report, the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for annual growth in Britain to 1.2 per cent. The economy grew by 1.4 per cent in 2018. The services sector, which represents about 80 per cent of the economy, edged up by only 0.1 per cent in February, held back by the 12th consecutive monthly fall in the financial sector. The construction sector expanded by 0.4 per cent.

“The slight slowdown in GDP growth in March in the services sector is a concern, given its dominant share of overall UK economic output,” Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said. “While manufacturing sector output is recovering, this improvement is likely to partly reflect a temporary boost from greater stockpiling ahead of a possible no-deal exit expected last month.”

Samuel Tombs, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said that the resilience of the latest data, combined with several months of strong wage growth, would put renewed pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates.

“We continue to think that the 20 per cent chance that investors are attaching to a rate hike this year is far too low and still expect [the Bank] to raise bank rate once before the end of this year,” Mr Tombs said in a note to clients.

Rob Kent-Smith, of the ONS, said: “GDP growth remained modest in the latest three months. Services again drove the economy, with a continued strong performance in IT. Manufacturing also continued to recover after weakness at the end of last year, with the often-erratic pharmaceutical industry, chemicals and alcohol performing well in recent months.”

The trade deficit grew by £5.5 billion to £13.6 billion in the three months to February, compared with the year before. Economists had expected the deficit to grow by £3.8 billion.

Brexit causing ‘significant’ generic drug shortages

PMLiVE, Gemma Jones, 10 April 2019

Pharmacies in England are reporting a ‘significant’ shortage in some medicines, warns the sector’s Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), and claims that Brexit is mostly to blame.

It says that manufacturers are imposing higher-than-usual tariffs on drugs due to the country becoming a less attractive market.

“Community pharmacies are reporting increasing problems sourcing some generic medicines for their patients,” said Simon Dukes, the Chief Executive of PSNC.

“Pharmacy teams are continuing to work hard to ensure that all patients receive the medicines they need when they need them, but we are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact that this is having on already busy pharmacy teams.”

To help with this, the PSNC draws up a list of medicines that have been affected each month, and in collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Care, adds a list of concessionary prices for those drugs.

Pharmacy contractors will then get automatically reimbursed on the basis of the concessionary prices, instead of the drug tariff list price.

The list was first introduced back in 2014 to avoid a chain of problems for the NHS associated with higher drug tariffs.

The total number of medicines that have been added to the list this month is 96, the highest number since the list was first launched, and includes painkillers and certain morphine products that are commonly required by cancer patients.

However Warwick Smith, Director General of the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA), which represents the sector, defended his member companies.

He told PMLiVE that that the number of products on a concessionary price didn’t indicate “widespread shortages or market failure”.

“Generic prices overall are increasing, which leads to concessionary prices, but as a response to a range of market pressures rather than a response to any single factor such as Brexit or stockpiling,” adds Smith.

He explained that the reimbursement price paid to pharmacies for dispensing generic medicines includes a guaranteed income of £800m per year, but this was overpaid in 2017.

“The DHSC is clawing this back by reducing pharmacy payments, which reduces flexibility in the reimbursement system.

“This is the normal cycle to ensure that pharmacy receives the correct sum and that the NHS does not overpay. This long-established process can give the incorrect perception that the prices of generic medicines have gone up even when the manufacturer’s price has not changed.”

The news builds on a recent warning by the ABPI, which has called for a temporary medicines export ban to avoid medicines shortages should a no-deal Brexit arises.

Meanwhile, at the political level, Brexit remains at a crisis level, with the UK currently set to leave the EU without a deal in just two days time. The EU is, however, expected to agree an extension for the UK at an emergency summit of EU leaders today. The length of this extension and its terms are yet to be agreed, but could see the UK stay in the EU until December 2019 or even March 2020 if no withdrawal agreement can be signed off by then.

Record 96 price concessions raise generics shortage concerns

C+D, Isabel Finch, 10 April 2019

PSNC is becoming “increasingly concerned” about the impact of generics supply issues, after a record 96 price concessions were agreed for March.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) director of pharmacy funding Mike Dent told C+D that, “while there have always been fluctuations” in the number of price concessions agreed with the Department of Health and Social Care (DH), the number “peaked” at 96 for March.

“PSNC is becoming increasingly worried about the impact that this is having on already busy pharmacy teams,” Mr Dent said yesterday (April 9).

“We will ensure contractors don’t suffer financially”

PSNC will “continue to ensure that contractors do not suffer financially as a consequence of elements of the supply chain that are out of their control”, Mr Dent said.

“One way the financial impact on contractors can be mitigated is through the analysis of all concession lines which takes place as part of the annual margins survey,” he said.

PSNC also said it will “continue to work with the DH to make the price concessions system work better for contractors”.

“We expect to have some challenging discussions on reimbursement in the pharmacy funding negotiations,” Mr Dent added.

“Complex global medicines market”

In December 2018, PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes warned that the “number of price concessions has grown in recent years” and there has been a “surge in the number of generics unavailable to purchase at drug tariff price”, in a letter to Sarah Wollaston MP, Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee.

The recent “surge” in the number of price concessions “may be due to a combination of factors, including Brexit planning and contingency, stockpiling, [and] the reduction in category M prices”, Mr Dukes added.

Last year, the National Audit Office (NAO) undertook an investigation into generics shortages, which identified the number of monthly price concessions had previously peaked at 91 in November 2017.

Mr Dent told C+D yesterday the investigation “uncovered just how complex the global medicines market is”, and “understandably, [the NAO] found there was no easy way to resolve all the current issues”.

DH: Price concessions don’t necessarily indicate shortage

The DH stressed that concessionary prices are not necessarily an indication of supply issues with a medicine.

It is a priority that “community pharmacies are reimbursed fairly for the products they dispense”, a DH spokesperson told C+D.

“We continue to have some of the cheapest drug prices in Europe. The cost of generic medicines go up and down based on a number of factors, including manufacturing costs and demand, as with any competitive market,” they added.

Health Secretary urged to investigate epilepsy medicine shortage

pharmaphorum, Joy Persaud, 10 April 2019

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been urged to immediately review the epilepsy medicine supply chain, after ongoing problems for patients who are struggling to obtain their treatments.

The Epilepsy Society has been contacted by increasing numbers of distressed patients who “are forced to trawl around pharmacies in search of their drugs”, putting them at greater risk of seizures.

This shortage is not just due to Brexit but has been causing problems for at least a decade, said the charity’s Chief Executive Clare Pelham.

“Without a consistent supply, a breakthrough seizure can occur, meaning that a person with epilepsy may lose their licence, lose their job and lose their quality of life,” warned Pelham.

“It is simply not good enough for drugs manufacturers to say ‘production issues’ or ‘just-in-time manufacture problems’ and shrug their shoulders whenever a shortage occurs.  People with epilepsy deserve better.

“It’s not a great deal in life to have to rely on regular medication to maintain your quality of life.  Surely the least that we can do – Government, charities and the pharmaceutical industry – is to work together to ensure that the supply of this essential medication is reliable every day, every week, and every month – year in and year out.”

She went on to say the charity wanted to work with Mr Hancock and the pharmaceutical industry to achieve consistent and reliable drug supplies for those who needed them.

The Epilepsy Society’s medical director, Professor Ley Sander said there was a need for greater openness and transparency in communication problems around medicines shortages.

“It is vital that clinicians have the most up to date information around any supply issues so that we can discuss these with our patients and forge a plan together,” he said.

“It is vital that doctors are fully informed of any issues around medicines supplies so that we can make plans to provide the best treatment available for our patients.”

Epilepsy, which can develop at any age, is most commonly diagnosed in children and in people over 65. More than 500,000 people in the UK have epilepsy – around one in 100 people.

The condition is usually treated with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), which aim to stop seizures from happening, but do not cure epilepsy. With the right AEDs, up to 70% of people with epilepsy could have their seizures controlled, so it is vital that patients can access the medicine.

Media And Political Bulletin – 11 April 2019

From Factory to Pharmacy

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