News

Media And Political Bulletin – 20 March 2020

Media and Political Bulletin

20 March 2020

Media Summary

COVID-19 LATEST: Healthcare workers and ‘medicines distributers’ included on key worker list

The Pharmaceutical Journal, 20 March 2020

The Pharmaceutical Journal reports that the list of key workers who are able to still send their children to school has been published. Employees working in medicines wholesaling and distribution ARE included as key workers. Click here for the full list.

Although the list does not mention pharmacists directly, it specifies that front-line health and social care workers and “producers and distributers of medicines” are included. The RPS has published a letter that pharmacy teams can use when communicating with schools – a copy is here.

COVID-19: CMA approach to essential business cooperation

Competition and Markets Authority, 19 March 2020

The CMA reports that it is very conscious of concerns that competition law enforcement could impede necessary cooperation between businesses to deal with the current crisis and ensure security of supplies of essential products and services. That’s why the CMA welcomes the Government’s announcement today to relax some elements of competition law to help supermarkets work together.

Where agreements are not covered by that legal relaxation, the CMA is offering the following reassurance: the CMA has no intention of taking competition law enforcement action against cooperation between businesses or rationing of products to the extent that this is necessary to protect consumers – for example, by ensuring security of supplies.

At the same time, the CMA will not tolerate unscrupulous businesses exploiting the crisis as a ‘cover’ for non-essential collusion. This includes exchanging information on longer-term pricing or business strategies, where this is not necessary to meet the needs of the current situation. More guidance on this will follow from the CMA in due course.

COVID-19: ‘No medicine shortages due to virus’

Pharmacy Business, Pri Mandav, 19 March 2020

Pharmacy Business reports that NHS bosses have reassured the community pharmacy sector that there are no medicine shortages in the country as a result of COVID-19. This was stated in a joint letter sent to community pharmacists yesterday by Dr Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for England, and Ed Waller, director, Primary Care Strategy and NHS Contracts.

The letter stated that the country was “well prepared to deal with any impacts of the coronavirus” and added that the Government was “working with manufacturers and suppliers to ensure people can continue to access the medicines they need.”

Furthermore, it said the Department of Health and Social Care has asked UK medicines suppliers to carry out a risk assessment on the impact of the virus on their businesses for all medicines. The letter stressed that patients and the public should not “seek to stockpile medicines” for the same reason.

Fake coronavirus ‘medicines’ and masks conning panic buyers online

Metro, Joe Roberts, 19 March 2020

Metro reports that British health authorities have joined a global crackdown on fake and unlicensed medicines amid a ‘disturbing trend’ of criminals exploiting the coronavirus outbreak. The MHRA said authorities had ‘identified a disturbing trend of criminals who are taking advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak by exploiting the high market demand for personal protection and hygiene products’.

The operation uncovered 2,000 coronavirus-related adverts online. Items claiming to be ‘corona spray’, ‘coronavirus medicines’ or ‘coronaviruses packages’ were seized by authorities, the UK’s MHRA revealed. Counterfeit face masks and unauthorised antiviral medication were also seized.

Elsewhere under the operation in the UK, the MHRA’s enforcement team, working with UK Border Force, found 871,616 doses of unlicensed medicines with a value of £2.6 million. It also took down 294 websites and removed 1,031 online social media adverts offering medicines illegally.

Esmya licence suspension

Dispensing Doctors’ Association, MHRA, 19 March 2020

Dispensing Doctors’ Association reports that healthcare professionals are asked to contact patients taking Esmya (ulipristal acetate) for uterine fibroids as soon as possible to stop treatment and advise on alternatives. Recent users should be told to seek immediate medical attention if they develop signs and symptoms of liver injury (nausea, vomiting, malaise, right hypochondrial pain, anorexia, asthenia or jaundice). In addition:

  • No patients should be started on Esmya
  • Practices should perform liver function tests 2–4 weeks after stopping Esmya

 

 

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

 

Full Coverage

COVID-19 LATEST: Healthcare workers and ‘medicines distributers’ included on key worker list

The Pharmaceutical Journal, 20 March 2020

The list of key workers who are able to still send their children to school has been published. Click here for the full list. Although the list does not mention pharmacists directly, it specifies that front-line health and social care workers and “producers and distributers of medicines” are included. This description has not gone down well with some pharmacists on social media, but the RPS has published a letter that pharmacy teams can use when communicating with schools – a copy is here.

COVID-19: CMA approach to essential business cooperation

Competition and Markets Authority, 19 March 2020

The CMA is very conscious of concerns that competition law enforcement could impede necessary cooperation between businesses to deal with the current crisis and ensure security of supplies of essential products and services, such as groceries.

That’s why the CMA welcomes the Government’s announcement today to relax some elements of competition law to help supermarkets work together.

Where agreements are not covered by that legal relaxation, the CMA can offer the following reassurance: the CMA has no intention of taking competition law enforcement action against cooperation between businesses or rationing of products to the extent that this is necessary to protect consumers – for example, by ensuring security of supplies.

At the same time, the CMA will not tolerate unscrupulous businesses exploiting the crisis as a ‘cover’ for non-essential collusion. This includes exchanging information on longer-term pricing or business strategies, where this is not necessary to meet the needs of the current situation. More guidance on this will follow from the CMA in due course.

The CMA trusts that these announcements will reassure businesses, which it knows are doing their best in difficult circumstances to meet the needs of the public.  Businesses must still be aware that any assurance given by the CMA cannot protect against competition litigation by private parties, but wants to offer comfort on its own approach.

COVID-19: ‘No medicine shortages due to virus’

Pharmacy Business, Pri Mandav, 19 March 2020

NHS bosses have reassured the community pharmacy sector that there are no medicine shortages in the country as a result of COVID-19.

This was stated in a joint letter sent to community pharmacists today by Dr Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for England, and Ed Waller, director, Primary Care Strategy and NHS Contracts.

The letter stated that the country was “well prepared to deal with any impacts of the coronavirus” and added that the Government was “working with manufacturers and suppliers to ensure people can continue to access the medicines they need.”

Furthermore, it said the Department of Health and Social Care has asked UK medicines suppliers to carry out a risk assessment on the impact of the virus on their businesses for all medicines, including Prescription Only Medicines (POMs), Pharmacy only (P) meds and General Sales List (GSL), irrespective of where they have originated from.

Stating that precautions were “in place to reduce the likelihood of future shortages,” the two NHS leaders have advised GPs not to “issue prescriptions for a longer duration” and asked pharmacies against ordering larger quantities “as this behaviour could put the supply chain at risk.”

The letter stressed that patients and the public should not “seek to stockpile medicines” for the same reason.

Fake coronavirus ‘medicines’ and masks conning panic buyers online

Metro, Joe Roberts, 19 March 2020

British health authorities have joined a global crackdown on fake and unlicensed medicines amid a ‘disturbing trend’ of criminals exploiting the coronavirus outbreak.

The operation uncovered 2,000 coronavirus-related adverts online. Items claiming to be ‘corona spray’, ‘coronavirus medicines’ or ‘coronaviruses packages’ were seized by authorities, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) revealed.

Counterfeit face masks and unauthorised antiviral medication were also seized. The MHRA, which regulates medicines in the UK, added that no coronavirus-related products reached the UK’s borders.

It said authorities had ‘identified a disturbing trend of criminals who are taking advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak by exploiting the high market demand for personal protection and hygiene products’.

Elsewhere under the operation in the UK, the MHRA’s enforcement team, working with UK Border Force, found 871,616 doses of unlicensed medicines with a value of £2.6 million.

It also took down 294 websites and removed 1,031 online social media adverts offering medicines illegally.

Seven warrants were issued, leading to two arrests, as part of investigations linked to the illegal online sale of medicines and resulting in the seizure of anti-anxiety, sedatives and weight loss products.

Fake medicines seized by authorities included anti-depressants, erectile dysfunction tablets, painkillers and anabolic steroids.

A total of 611,888 unlicensed copies of erectile dysfunction medication were seized in the operation, as well as 88,160 doses of medicines to treat insomnia, and 26,005 doses of pain relief medication.

MHRA’s head of enforcement Mark Jackson said: ‘Criminals who sell medicines and devices illegally are not only breaking the law but have no regard for your health and will take advantage of a major public health crisis to make a profit.

‘Taking fake or unlicensed medicines and using a non-compliant medical device could put your health and safety in danger and may lead to serious health issues.’

The MHRA urges people to take care when purchasing medicines online by using legitimate sources and avoiding sites that might, for example, illegally offer prescription medicines without the need for a prescription.

People are also warned of the dangers of self-diagnosis and self-medication and should contact their GP if concerned about their health.

Esmya licence suspension

Dispensing Doctors’ Association, MHRA, 19 March 2020

Healthcare professionals are asked to contact patients taking Esmya (ulipristal acetate) for uterine fibroids as soon as possible to stop treatment and advise on alternatives.

Recent users should be told to seek immediate medical attention if they develop signs and symptoms of liver injury (nausea, vomiting, malaise, right hypochondrial pain, anorexia, asthenia or jaundice).

In addition:

  • No patients should be started on Esmya
  • Practices should perform liver function tests 2–4 weeks after stopping Esmya

Please note there are no concerns with emergency contraceptive ellaOne (ulipristal acetate 30mg single dose) at this time.

Media And Political Bulletin – 20 March 2020

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