News

Media And Political Bulletin – 29 April 2020

Media and Political Bulletin

29 April 2020

Media Summary

Pandemic instalment prescribing rules announced

Dispensing Doctors’ Association, Ailsa Colquhoun, 29 April 2020

Dispensing Doctors’ Association reports that the Home Office has laid the foundations for COVID-19 emergency legislation to enable supply of controlled drugs.

The legislation will allow prescribers to vary the dispensing frequency of an instalment prescription, including for patients on courses of take-home Opioid Substitution Therapy. The proviso is that this legislation is used only in limited circumstances following an announcement by the Secretary of State and under conditions specified by the local health service.

Service providers should try to ensure that such patients have lock-boxes to store medicines and are provided with take-home naloxone. There should also be regular contact with the prescriber or prescribing service.

This was also reported in the Pharmaceutical Journal.

Call for action over medicine shortages exacerbated by COVID-19 outbreak

Euractiv, Natasha Foote, 28 April 2020

Euractiv reports that stakeholders across the EU are calling for action on medicine shortages, which they say pose severe threats to patient outcomes, patient safety and patient care.

The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), alongside a number of its members representing patient and disease groups, published a report on Monday 27 April which they hope will help plug the gap. The report details new recommendations to tackle the EU medicine shortages crisis.

Similarly, the standing committee of European doctors (CPME) published their position on the topic earlier this month, in which they urged the European Commission to hold companies accountable and impose a public service obligation on providers of essential medicines.

They also highlighted the need to increase diversification of supply sources and become more independent from production sites outside Europe, notably for essential medicines.

In a statement, the European Medicine Agency (EMA) said that some member states have already indicated that they are starting to experience shortages of certain medicines that are used to treat infected patients, while others say they are expecting shortages to occur shortly.

Parliamentary Coverage

House of Commons – Written Answers, 28 April 2020

Adam Holloway (Gravesham):

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the Government is working with air freight companies to prioritise the supply of medical equipment for the treatment of covid-19 patients at an appropriate cost.
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has had discussions with the Department for Transport on increasing the number of air freight transport routes in operation to minimise delays to the import of medical supplies

Edward Argar (answered on 28 April 2020, holding answer received on 27 April 2020): The Government has announced a range of measures to assist industry and companies are able to draw on this unprecedented package of economic measures. These measures have been designed to ensure that companies of any size, including airports, airlines and the wider supply chain, receive the help they need to get through this difficult time.

The Government recognises that air freight plays an important role in supply chains and the importance that essential goods can continue to be brought into and out of the United Kingdom without disruption. COVID-19 presents unique risks to the movement of goods.

Because of this, the Department for Transport is working with different sectors to help ensure that essential goods can continue to be transported into the UK. This includes working closely with the aviation sector to support it to ensure there is sufficient capacity to protect global travel routes, continue freight and maintain vital connectivity.

The Department of Health and Social Care is working closely with the Department for Transport, other Government Departments and industry to feed into this ongoing work as well as monitor the impact of COVID-19 on medical supply chains and manage identified risks. For example, the Department of Health and Social Care has mobilised an Express Freight Service to support the continuity of supply of medicines and medical products and ensure the continued prioritisation of critical products.

This is complemented by the current work of the Civil Aviation Authority and the Competition and Markets Authority. The Civil Aviation Authority oversees and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the United Kingdom and is engaging airlines and airports to provide flexibility within the regulatory framework to help manage and mitigate COVID-19 impacts where appropriate. The Competition and Markets Authority, which has launched a COVID-19 pandemic taskforce to identify harmful pricing practices is advising the Government on the means of ensuring markets operate as well as possible.

Full Coverage

Pandemic instalment prescribing rules announced

Dispensing Doctors’ Association, Ailsa Colquhoun, 29 April 2020

The Home Office has laid the foundations for COVID-19 emergency legislation to enable supply of controlled drugs.

The legislation will allow prescribers to vary the dispensing frequency of an instalment prescription, including for patients on courses of take-home Opioid Substitution Therapy. The proviso is that this legislation is used only in limited circumstances following an announcement by the Secretary of State and under conditions specified by the local health service.

Service providers should try to ensure that such patients have lock-boxes to store medicines and are provided with take-home naloxone. There should also be regular contact with the prescriber or prescribing service.

The legislation also ensures that pharmacists vary the frequency of dispensing an instalment prescription only after consultation with a prescriber.

The aim is for health guidance to be aligned across the devolved UK health administrations.

This was also reported in the Pharmaceutical Journal.

Call for action over medicine shortages exacerbated by COVID-19 outbreak

Euractiv, Natasha Foote, 28 April 2020

Stakeholders across the EU are calling for action on medicine shortages, which they say pose severe threats to patient outcomes, patient safety and patient care. A new report released on Monday (27 April) hopes to help plug the gap.

The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), alongside a number of its members representing patient and disease groups, has published a report detailing new recommendations to tackle the EU medicine shortages crisis, saying that patients “can’t wait any longer”.

They said that the virus outbreak has brought the issue of medicine shortages to a head.

Similarly, the standing committee of European doctors (CPME) published their position on the topic earlier this month, in which they urged the European Commission to hold companies accountable and impose a public service obligation on providers of essential medicines.

They also highlighted the need to increase diversification of supply sources and become more independent from production sites outside Europe, notably for essential medicines.

In a statement, the European Medicine Agency (EMA) said that some member states have already indicated that they are starting to experience shortages of certain medicines that are used to treat infected patients, while others say they are expecting shortages to occur shortly.

The EPHA say that these include medicines used in intensive care such as certain anaesthetics, antibiotics and muscle relaxants, as well as medicines that are used off-label for COVID-19.

The reasons given for such shortages include production and capacity issues or commercial decisions, adding that supply issues are now also occurring for medicines used to treat patients with COVID-19, including in ICU.

All European countries are affected by this issue, according to the EPHA, and the effects of shortages on patients and their families can be “life-changing”.

The report sets out a series of nine recommendations, which include a permanent system for monitoring medicine shortages in the EU to be established, as well as a new EU Joint Action on the issue.

They also call for a new EU study to assess the impact of shortages on patient health, treatment and care, as well as for the meaningful input from elected representatives in the European Parliament into the development of a new EU strategy to tackle the crisis.

Charlotte Roffiaen, of EPHA member France Assos Santé, said that medicine shortages have “gone out of control in most EU countries, with devastating effects on patient health.”

“We need increased European coordination and strong EU initiatives to fight this plague, as no member state is in a position to solve this crisis on its own,” she added.

The CPME concurs, saying that medicine shortages concern all EU countries and demand a common European response.

They emphasise that Europe needs member state to cooperate and to coordinate different measures in order to mitigate disruptions to the supply of medicines and ensure their equal availability for all EU citizens.

CPME President Professor Dr Frank Ulrich Montgomery said that medicine shortages can “severely limit doctors’ ability to provide appropriate treatment”.

“Today the situation is aggravated by the surge in demand due to the treatment of COVID-19 patients and additional interruptions in a globalised and fragile supply chain.”

“We must undertake immediate actions to prevent European hospitals from running out of essential medicines and, once the emergency is over, permanent measures must be put in place to ensure a stable supply of medicines to European citizens in the future,” he added.

Back at the beginning of April, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recorded a video message on guidelines that are aimed at ensuring Europeans have access to affordable medicines during the crisis.

National governments have also been asked to lift any export bans on medicines and avoid stockpiling.

Most recently, on Tuesday (28 April) the Commission published more guidance on ensuring that clinical trials can continue taking place in the EU during the pandemic.

The aim is to mitigate the disruption of clinical research in Europe, including the distribution of medicines to patients in clinical trials.

Media And Political Bulletin – 29 April 2020

From Factory to Pharmacy

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