News

Media And Political Bulletin – 23 March 2020

Media and Political Bulletin

23 March 2020

Media Summary

COVID-19: Wholesalers urge pharmacies to return tote boxes quickly

C+D, Eliza Slawther, 20 March 2020

C+D reports that wholesaler body the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA) has issued a “plea to pharmacies” to return tote boxes quickly amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Wholesalers are experiencing “severe shortages” of pharmacy delivery tote boxes, which are an “integral part” of their picking processes, HDA chief executive Martin Sawer said last week. Mr Sawer asked pharmacies to “help the whole medicines supply chain by returning any totes to the delivery driver” when they make the delivery.

The shortage of tote boxes is “particularly affecting the work being done by the automated sections of [wholesalers’] warehouses as part of the twice-daily picking cycle”, he added. “Tote boxes also help us to protect and track medicines and are essential to safe medicines supply in the UK,” Mr Sawer explained.

This was also reported in Pharmacy Magazine.

COVID-19: Pharmacies report difficulty in sourcing paracetamol

C+D, Eliza Slawther, 20 March 2020

C+D reports that pharmacies have reported difficulty in getting hold of paracetamol in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, although the DH has said there is no shortage of the drug.

DH says it is “well prepared to deal with any impacts of the coronavirus” and has “stockpiles of generic drugs like paracetamol in the event of any supply issues or increases in demand”, but C+D readers have reported difficulties in sourcing packs of the drug.

Martin Sawer, executive director of the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) confirmed that there is “plenty of paracetamol in the supply chain” but highlighted that the demand for it has increased.

Unlike over-the-counter medicines, much paracetamol “is not price controlled” and therefore the cost has increased, he said.

Updated COVID-19 SOP and Opening Hours Flexibility: Statement from PSNC, CCA, NPA and AIM

PSNC, 22 March 2020

PSNC reports that NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) have issued an updated Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for community pharmacies in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Critically, the SOP gives pharmacies some flexibility in the hours in which they need to open to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NHSE&I has also stated that for temporary closures (not closed-door working), for instance where not enough staff are available to work, NHSE&I must be informed immediately. The pharmacy NHS 111 Directory of Services (DoS) profile must be updated, as must the NHS Website.

NHSE&I is encouraging cooperation between community pharmacies and GP practices in primary care networks, to deliver the best care, and protect and maximise the capabilities of staff across practices and pharmacies.

Read the SOP.

UK police charge man with making and selling fake coronavirus treatment kits

Reuters, James Davey and Daniel Wallis, 21 March 2020

Reuters report that British police say they have charged a man with making counterfeit treatment kits for coronavirus, and sending them across the world. Frank Ludlow, 59, was arrested on Friday and has been charged with one count of fraud by false representation, one count of possession of articles for use in fraud, and one count of unlawfully manufacturing a medicinal product.

During a search of Ludlow’s home, police found 300 more treatment kits and an estimated 20 litres of chemicals used in the production of the fake kits.

Ludlow’s arrest followed a joint investigation by the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Crucial medicines protected for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients

Department of Health and Social Care, 20 March 2020

More than 80 medicines used to treat patients in intensive care units have been banned from parallel export from the UK. The parallel export ban will help ensure there is an uninterrupted supply of medicines for NHS hospitals treating coronavirus patients.

The new restrictions cover crucial medicines such as adrenaline, insulin, paracetamol, morphine. All medicines on the list are in high demand across Europe as health systems come under increasing pressure from coronavirus (COVID-19).

The restrictions are a standard measure to manage potential medicine shortages and protects UK patients by ensuring the NHS has the treatments to continue providing world-class care. Companies that parallel export a medicine on the ban list may face tough enforcement action from the MHRA and risk having their trading licence revoked for serious breaches.

You can see the full list of medicines that cannot be parallel exported from the UK here. This was reported in HSJ and Dispensing Doctors’ Association.

CMA sets up Covid-19 taskforce to stop price rises

P3 Pharmacy, 20 March 2020

P3 Pharmacy reports that the CMA has set up a taskforce to crack down on companies that are taking advantage of the coronavirus outbreak by significantly increasing the price of their goods. The COVID-19 taskforce will scrutinise market developments to identify what it described as “harmful sales and pricing practices.”

Antibiotics, paracetamol and hand sanitisers are among the products that have significantly increased in price in recent weeks. Earlier this month the CMA warned retailers to behave responsibly and said it would “consider any evidence that companies may have broken competition or consumer protection law.”

The taskforce will also caution firms suspected of unjustifiably raising prices or making misleading claims.

 

 

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

 

Full Coverage

COVID-19: Wholesalers urge pharmacies to return tote boxes quickly

C+D, Eliza Slawther, 20 March 2020

Wholesaler body the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA) has issued a “plea to pharmacies” to return tote boxes quickly amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Wholesalers are experiencing “severe shortages” of pharmacy delivery tote boxes, which are an “integral part” of their picking processes, HDA chief executive Martin Sawer said yesterday (March 19).

Mr Sawer asked pharmacies to “help the whole medicines supply chain by returning any totes to the delivery driver” when they make the delivery.

The shortage of tote boxes is “particularly affecting the work being done by the automated sections of [wholesalers’] warehouses as part of the twice-daily picking cycle”, he added.

“Tote boxes also help us to protect and track medicines and are essential to safe medicines supply in the UK,” Mr Sawer explained.

This was also reported in Pharmacy Magazine.

COVID-19: Pharmacies report difficulty in sourcing paracetamol

C+D, Eliza Slawther, 20 March 2020

Pharmacies have reported difficulty in getting hold of paracetamol in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, although the DH has said there is no shortage of the drug.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) said it is “well prepared to deal with any impacts of the coronavirus” and has “stockpiles of generic drugs like paracetamol in the event of any supply issues or increases in demand”.

However, C+D readers have reported difficulties in sourcing packs of the drug.

North East London Local Pharmaceutical Committee secretary Hemant Patel told C+D that pharmacies were struggling to source smaller packs of paracetamol, and asking for advice on whether they could instead break up packs of 100 into smaller amounts.

An anonymous contractor in Scotland said they had managed to get hold of packs of 100 paracetamol tablets, but could not find smaller packs.

Contractor Olivier Picard told C+D that his business had sold 200 paracetamol packets in just a day-and-a-half and had run out of packets of paracetamol that did not require a prescription.

Martin Sawer, executive director of the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) confirmed that there is “plenty of paracetamol in the supply chain” but highlighted that the demand for it has increased.

Unlike over-the-counter medicines, much paracetamol “is not price controlled” and therefore the cost has increased, he said.

Traders must not “exploit the current situation”

When C+D put the reported price increase of paracetamol to the DH, it responded with a statement by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) issued on March 5.

The CMA “wants to ensure that traders do not exploit the current situation to take advantage of people”, the statement said.

It will “consider any evidence that companies may have broken competition or consumer protection law”, such as “charging excessive prices or making misleading claims about the efficacy of protective equipment”.

Updated COVID-19 SOP and Opening Hours Flexibility: Statement from PSNC, CCA, NPA and AIM

PSNC, 22 March 2020

NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) have today issued an updated Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for community pharmacies in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Critically, the SOP gives pharmacies some flexibility in the hours in which they need to open to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opening hours flexibility

Specifically:

• If under significant pressure, at the discretion of the responsible pharmacist, pharmacies may close their doors to the public for up to 2.5 hours a day, including lunch.

• Community pharmacies are expected to be open to the public between 10am-12 noon and 2pm-4pm as a minimum (if these are contracted core or supplementary hours).

• Similarly, 100 hours pharmacies should be open from 10am–12pm and 2pm–6pm as a minimum.

A sign on the door must give information about how to contact the pharmacy if urgent help is needed.

Temporary closures

NHSE&I has also stated that for temporary closures (not closed-door working), for instance where not enough staff are available to work, NHSE&I must be informed immediately. The pharmacy NHS 111 Directory of Services (DoS) profile must be updated, as must the NHS Website.

NHSE&I is encouraging cooperation between community pharmacies and GP practices in primary care networks, to deliver the best care, and protect and maximise the capabilities of staff across practices and pharmacies.

NHSE&I also encourages local pharmacies to work to maintain continuity of services in the event of temporary closures through ‘buddy’ arrangements, stating:

Particular thought should be given to patients receiving services such as supervised consumption or monitored dosage systems. Consideration can be given to providing daily doses rather than supervised consumption on an individual patient risk assessed basis.

The new guidance from NHSE&I is included in the pharmacy SOP updated today. Read the SOP.

Pharmacy response

PSNC, CCA, NPA and AIM welcome the revised SOP and the flexibility that this gives to contractors.

The changes should help to ensure that pharmacies can stay open to the public, and that staff can work safely and are not fatigued by the current high workload and pressures associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. Pharmacy contractors are encouraged to make use of the provisions to support their staff.

The pharmacy organisations are working together on detailed guidance for contractors to help them to implement this new SOP.

UK police charge man with making and selling fake coronavirus treatment kits

Reuters, James Davey and Daniel Wallis, 21 March 2020

British police said on Saturday they had charged a man with making counterfeit treatment kits for coronavirus, and sending them across the world.

Frank Ludlow, 59, of West Sussex, southern England, was arrested on Friday and has been charged with one count of fraud by false representation, one count of possession of articles for use in fraud, and one count of unlawfully manufacturing a medicinal product.

He appeared at Brighton Magistrates Court and was remanded in custody until April 20.

Ludlow’s arrest followed a joint investigation by the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

During a search of Ludlow’s home, police found 300 more treatment kits and an estimated 20 litres of chemicals used in the production of the fake kits.

“The kits are thought to contain potassium thiocyanate and hydrogen peroxide, both of which are extremely harmful chemicals when the user is instructed to wash and rinse their mouth with them,” the police said.

The case originated when officers with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency in Los Angeles intercepted a package on March 18 that was sent from the UK and contained 60 separate COVID-19 treatment kits labelled as “Anti-Pathogenic treatment”.

The U.S. FDA determined the product to be an unapproved drug and alerted the MHRA in the UK.

Crucial medicines protected for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients

Department of Health and Social Care, 20 March 2020

More than 80 medicines used to treat patients in intensive care units have been banned from parallel export from the UK.

The parallel export ban will help ensure there is an uninterrupted supply of medicines for NHS hospitals treating coronavirus patients.

The new restrictions cover crucial medicines such as:

  • adrenaline
  • insulin
  • paracetamol
  • morphine

Parallel exporting is when companies buy medicines meant for UK patients and sell on for a higher price in another country, potentially causing or aggravating supply problems.

All medicines on the list are in high demand across Europe as health systems come under increasing pressure from coronavirus (COVID-19).

The restrictions are a standard measure to manage potential medicine shortages and protects UK patients by ensuring the NHS has the treatments to continue providing world-class care.

Companies that parallel export a medicine on the ban list may face tough enforcement action from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and risk having their trading licence revoked for serious breaches.

The Department of Health and Social Care has existing, well-established processes to deal with and resolve medicines shortages. The medicine supply chain is complex and highly regulated, so problems can arise for a variety of reasons, including manufacturing issues or problems with raw ingredients.

Health minister Lord Bethell said:

“Our brilliant NHS staff are going above and beyond to provide world-class care to patients with coronavirus and we are supporting them in every way we can.

“We are today banning the parallel export of more than 80 crucial medicines to protect patients in the UK and help ensure they can always get the treatments they need.”

You can see the full list of medicines that cannot be parallel exported from the UK here.

This was reported in HSJ and Dispensing Doctors’ Association.

CMA sets up Covid-19 taskforce to stop price rises

P3 Pharmacy, 20 March 2020

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has today set up a taskforce to crack down on companies that are taking advantage of the coronavirus outbreak by significantly increasing the price of their goods.

The COVID-19 taskforce will scrutinise market developments to identify what it described as “harmful sales and pricing practices.”

Antibiotics, paracetamol and hand sanitisers are among the products that have significantly increased in price in recent weeks, leading to some companies being accused of trying to exploit the public.

Earlier this month the CMA warned retailers to behave responsibly and said it would “consider any evidence that companies may have broken competition or consumer protection law.”

The taskforce will also caution firms suspected of unjustifiably raising prices or making misleading claims.

The CMA said it has already contacted traders and platforms over the excessive pricing of hand sanitiser and warned it will take enforcement action “if there is evidence that firms may have breached competition or consumer protection law and they fail to respond to warnings.”

Other options at the taskforce’s disposal include equipping the CMA to advise the government on emergency legislation if current powers fail to deal with the situation and advising ministers on how to prevent competition law from overriding measures designed to stop retailers exploiting the unfolding crisis.

‘We must protect our fellow citizens’

“This is obviously a time when we all have to behave responsibly to protect our fellow citizens, and particularly those who are most vulnerable. We urge retailers to behave responsibly in the exceptional circumstances of the Covid-19 outbreak,” said CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli.

“But if they do not, our taskforce is monitoring market developments to enable us to intervene as quickly as possible.

“We have a range of options at our disposal, from warnings to enforcement action to seeking emergency powers.

“We hope that such action will not be necessary, but we will do whatever is required to stop a small minority of businesses that may seek to exploit the present situation.”

Media And Political Bulletin – 23 March 2020

From Factory to Pharmacy

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