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Media and Political Bulletin – 20 May 2020

Media and Political Bulletin

20 May 2020

Media Summary

 

Supplies of sedative used for COVID-19 patients diverted from France to avoid potential shortages

The Pharmaceutical Journal, 19 May 2020, Carolyn Wickware

The Pharmaceutical Journal reports that supplies of the sedative midazolam have been diverted from France as a “precaution” to mitigate potential shortages in the NHS caused by COVID-19, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary, told the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee on 17 April 2020 that intensive therapy unit medicines — including midazolam — are part of “a delicate supply chain” as they “are made in a relatively small number of factories around the world”.

A spokesperson from Accord Healthcare told The Pharmaceutical Journal on 11 May 2020 that it was out of stock of midazolam after the NHS requested it “place all of its stock of midazolam — equivalent to around two year’s forecasted supply — into its wholesale partners”, even though the manufacturer “does not currently have any NHS contracts in England” to supply the drug.

Q&A: The rise in counterfeit medicines during Covid-19

European Pharmaceutical Manufacturer, Reece Armstrong, 19 May 2020

European Pharmaceutical Manufacturer reports that there is a rise in counterfeit medicines during the Covid-19 pandemic. The article involves an interview on this matter with Rami Cassis, the executive chairman of pharmaceutical serialisation company, Advanco.

The World Health Organisation has recently warned against a surge in fake medicines, notably in the developing world, and Interpol’s global pharmaceutical crime fighting unit has reportedly made 121 arrests across 90 countries in just seven days, resulting in the seizure of dangerous pharmaceuticals worth over $14m (£11m).

COVID-19 LATEST: Pharmacy bid for extra COVID-19 funding submitted to government

The Pharmaceutical Journal, 19 May 2020

The Pharmaceutical Journal reports that community pharmacy’s bid for extra funding to cover costs associated with COVID-19 has been submitted to the Treasury, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said.

The PSNC would not disclose to The Pharmaceutical Journal how much funding it has requested from the government.

In a statement published on 19 May 2020, the PSNC said the government plans to increase medicine reimbursement prices by £15m in June 2020 as part its annual adjustments to ensure community pharmacy receives a margin payment of £800m.

Parliamentary Coverage

 

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

 

Full Coverage

 

Supplies of sedative used for COVID-19 patients diverted from France to avoid potential shortages

The Pharmaceutical Journal, 19 May 2020, Carolyn Wickware

Supplies of the sedative midazolam have been diverted from France as a “precaution” to mitigate potential shortages in the NHS caused by COVID-19, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has told The Pharmaceutical Journal.

A spokesperson from Accord Healthcare, one of five manufacturers of the drug, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that it had to gain regulatory approval to sell French-labelled supplies of midazolam injection to the NHS, after having already sold two years’ worth of stock to UK wholesalers “at the request of the NHS” in March 2020.

The DHSC said the request for extra stock was part of “national efforts to respond to the coronavirus outbreak”, which included precautions “to reduce the likelihood of future shortages”.

Midazolam is listed by the Royal College of Anaesthetists as a “first-line” sedative in the management of COVID-19 patients, and warns in guidance published on 2 April 2020 that it “may be subject to demand pressure”.

Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary, told the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee on 17 April 2020 that intensive therapy unit medicines — including midazolam — are part of “a delicate supply chain” as they “are made in a relatively small number of factories around the world”.

While the DHSC confirmed that midazolam is still available to both primary and secondary care, it added that some suppliers of the sedative had limited or no stock availability.

A spokesperson from Accord Healthcare told The Pharmaceutical Journal on 11 May 2020 that it was out of stock of midazolam injection after the NHS requested it “place all of its stock of midazolam — equivalent to around two year’s forecasted supply — into its wholesale partners”, even though the manufacturer “does not currently have any NHS contracts in England” to supply the drug.

“As a result of the NHS request [in March 2020], we are subsequently out of stock,” said Peter Kelly, managing director of Accord Healthcare.

However, he added that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had given the manufacturer approval “for some French label stock — another 22,000 packs — to be sold into the NHS and [we] are currently waiting for the MHRA’s direction on where to place the stock”.

The manufacturer said the French stock only includes midazolam at the strength of 1mg/mL in 5mL, while the initial supply in March 2020 contained a variety of four different strengths.

A spokesperson for the DHSC said it was “working closely with industry, the NHS and others in the supply chain to help ensure patients can access the medicines they need and precautions are in place to reduce the likelihood of future shortages”.

The DHSC confirmed that its request for additional midazolam stock from Accord Healthcare was one of these precautions.

“As part of our national efforts to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, we are doing everything we can to ensure patients continue to access safe and effective medicines,” they added.

Q&A: The rise in counterfeit medicines during Covid-19

European Pharmaceutical Manufacturer, Reece Armstrong, 19 May 2020

EPM speaks to Rami Cassis, executive chairman of pharmaceutical serialisation company  Advanco and CEO of Parabellum Investments about the rise in counterfeit medicines during the Covid-19 pandemic.

EPM: Has there been a rise in counterfeit medicines during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Cassis: It certainly seems so. The World Health Organisation has recently warned against a surge in fake medicines, notably in the developing world, and Interpol’s global pharmaceutical crime fighting unit has reportedly made 121 arrests across 90 countries in just seven days, resulting in the seizure of dangerous pharmaceuticals worth over $14m (£11m).

EPM: How are criminals exploiting the crisis to sell/distribute fake medicines?

Cassis: Criminals and counterfeiters are able to profit from the current situation through a combination of exploiting people’s desperation to have a Covid-19 cure and, at the same time, established supply chains are breaking due to current circumstances.

EPM: Are people at risk more because of scams/counterfeit schemes due to the pandemic?

Cassis: Yes, because, as the WHO has warned, when supply does not meet the demand, it creates an environment where poorer quality or fake medicines will try to meet those needs – and we are already seeing that happening in many countries. By consuming fake medications posturing as a Covid-19 cure or as a fake alleged Covid-19 treating drug (eg; Chloroquine). Many people are obviously being put at risk.

EPM: How is serialisation helping the pharmaceutical industry track medicines throughout the supply chain?

Cassis: Medicines are tracked right from the shop floor all the way through the supply chain and ultimately to dispensation, so it is possible to trace each batch number and ensure the authenticity and source of supply. This gives peace of mind and also enables medicines to be verified.

EPM: What kinds of serialisation software are in place within the industry?

Cassis: For more than a decade now, GS1 Standard solutions have been implemented by over 80 countries

EPM: Is enough being done via regulation to ensure pharmaceuticals are properly tracked and to fight counterfeiting?

Cassis: The technology is there but the adoption and speed of implementation is slow in certain regions/countries. As a result of the current situation, things may accelerate – let’s hope so.

EPM: Does more need to be done currently to fight a rise in fake medicines during the pandemic?

Cassis: Serialisation as a process is mandated in many parts of the globe but the policies and speed of implementation greatly varies. Robust tech solutions like that from Advanco can help, but ultimately their effectiveness is dependent on a number of moving parts working together.

EPM: In regards to the pharma supply chain, what can we learn from Covid-19?

Cassis: The largest new thing after Covid-19 will be de-globalisation of the supply chain with serialisation used more widely across pharmaceutical medicines and products. We believe that as a result of this pandemic, many manufacturers will look to pull back from China, and establish local or regional production capacity, which will effectively reduce the dependence of the West on China and strengthen the US and European economies.

COVID-19 LATEST: Pharmacy bid for extra COVID-19 funding submitted to government

The Pharmaceutical Journal, 19 May 2020

Community pharmacy’s bid for extra funding to cover costs associated with COVID-19 has been submitted to the Treasury, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said. Speaking in a video to contractors on 15 May 2020, Simon Dukes, chief executive of the PSNC, said community pharmacies “need more money, simple as that,” adding that the PSNC’s “bid for more money is with Treasury… being scrutinised and as soon as we get a response from them we will let you know”. The PSNC would not disclose to The Pharmaceutical Journal how much funding it has requested from the government.

In a statement published on 19 May 2020, the PSNC said the government plans to increase medicine reimbursement prices by £15m in June 2020 as part its annual adjustments to ensure community pharmacy receives a margin payment of £800m. Dukes said he was “pleased to have agreed these increases” but added that “this is not enough – all pharmacies are facing significant and wide-ranging financial issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are continuing to press for urgent additional investment in the sector”.

Media and Political Bulletin – 20 May 2020

From Factory to Pharmacy

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