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”.

WHO drops the word ‘counterfeit’ to use the term ‘falsified’ on addressing quality of medicines

29 Nov 2016, Pharmabiz, Ramesh Shankar

 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced plans to replace the current ‘counterfeit’ terminology for the description of low-quality drugs. The WHO will now recommend the use of ‘falsified’ and ‘substandard’ when referring to illicit drugs. The definition of falsified ensures that there will be no confusion over the intellectual property rights of the falsified drugs as well as clarifying that the drugs should not be considered as falsified solely on the grounds that they have not been authorised for marketing in a specific country.

 

This was also reported by Securing IndustryThe Times of India and The Hindu

 

NPA legal action against Government still alive as talks continue

28 Nov 2016, Pharmacy Business, Neil Trainis

 

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) is still in discussions with its lawyers in regards to mounting a legal challenge against the Government’s plans to cut community pharmacy funding. The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) recently ruled out challenging the community pharmacy funding cuts through the courts. An NPA spokesperson said that the NPA is continuing to consult with its lawyers until the Government show a shift in their plans for the pharmacy sector.

 

Parliamentary Coverage

There is no Parliamentary coverage today.

Full Coverage

WHO drops the word ‘counterfeit’ to use the term ‘falsified’ on addressing quality of medicines

29 Nov 2016, Pharmabiz, Ramesh Shankar

 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has finally distanced its work on addressing the quality of medicines from an IP enforcement agenda. The WHO’s SSFFC working group dropped the word counterfeit and uses the term falsified. Definition of ‘falsified’ further states that any consideration related to intellectual property rights does not fall within this definition. It also clarifies that medical products should not be considered as falsified solely on the grounds that they are unauthorized for marketing in any given country.

 

In fact, India has been fiercely pushing to get the term counterfeit dropped. Dr. V G Somani, Joint Drugs Controller of India, CDSCO, New Delhi represented India in the negotiations.

 

According to sources, the WHO’s Member State Mechanism on substandard/spurious/falsely labelled/falsified/counterfeit (SSFFC) medical products adopted the report of the informal working group on the definition. The adopted definition drops the word counterfeit and uses the term falsified – which is much more in line with public health concerns regarding medicines, which make false claims about what they contain or where they are from, that represent a genuine problem.

 

Numerous policy initiatives claim to promote patient safety by taking action against ‘counterfeit’ medicines. But most, if not all, of these initiatives are on the wrong track. In reality, campaigns and legislation against counterfeit drugs often have nothing to do with concerns about drug quality.

 

According to health groups, major US and European pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in limiting competition from generic drugs, and are using increased enforcement of intellectual property laws as a tool to clamp down on the legitimate trade in high-quality generic medicines between developing countries. Confusion around the term ‘counterfeit’ is feeding into this, diverting resources from the real problem of drug quality.

 

People use the term to describe substandard or falsified medicines. But under international law — the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) — the definition of counterfeit is clearly targeted at one particular area: wilful infringement of trademark on a commercial scale.

 

Anti-counterfeit initiatives with this misplaced focus are growing fast. The dangers of this approach are clear. As a result of European customs regulations put in place in 2003 (EC Council Regulation no. 1383/2003), which cover infringements of intellectual property, almost 20 shipments of generic drugs, including basic antibiotics and anti-retrovirals, were detained while in transit from India to several developing countries via Europe in 2008 and 2009.

 

The European Union first claimed it was fighting trade in counterfeit medicines. But an official response by the Dutch government to a Freedom of Information Act request, filed by Health Action International, revealed that these shipments contained generic medicines detained on allegations of infringing intellectual property. Under international law, goods cannot be detained in transit on the grounds of trademark or patent infringement — trademarks and patents are specific to a particular territory.

 

Even the WHO’s attempts to address the issue have been controversial. The discussion on terminology and the confusion it creates has been taken up by the Intergovernmental Working Group on substandard/spurious/falsely labelled/falsified/counterfeit medical products, a body set up by WHO member states.

 

WHO group finally tames fake medicines tongue-twister

28 Nov 2016, Securing Industry, Phil Taylor

 

A World Health Organization (WH) working group has come up with a new lexicon to replace the current clunky nomenclature for illicit and low-quality medicines.

 

For years, WHO has been using the cumbersome phrase ‘substandard/spurious/falsely-labelled/falsified/counterfeit’ medicines or SSFFCs, having got tangled up in an acrimonious debate about the use of the word ‘counterfeit’ and allegations that – as a term associated with intellectual property rights – its use could lead to a conflation with legitimate generic drugs.

 

Now, the WHO’s technical working group has recommended just two words – ‘falsified’ and ‘substandard’ – to cover the gamut of cases under the SSFFC umbrella. The idea still has to be approved by World Health Assembly (WHA) member states, and will come in front of the executive board in May 2017.

 

“The term ‘falsified’ appears to adequately include all the various types of deliberate misrepresentation of a medical product in such a way which enables the specific exclusion of intellectual property rights,” according to the working group.

 

The proposed definitions are as follows:

 

*Substandard medical products – Also called ‘out of specification’, these are authorized medical products that fail to meet either their quality standards or their specifications, or bot; and *

 

Falsified medical products – Medical products that deliberately/fraudulently misrepresent their identity, composition or source.

 

“The terms of reference of the Member State mechanism on SSFFC medical products expressly exclude the protection of intellectual property rights” from the mandate of the member state mechanism for handling falsified and substandard medicines, said the working group.

 

Medicines won’t be called ‘counterfeit’, WHO says

26 Nov 2016, The Times of India, Rema Nagarajan

 

NEW DELHI: In a major victory for India, which has been pushing hard to get the term “counterfeit” dropped from references to medical products, especially generic medicines, the World Health Organisation’s technical working group has decided to drop the term and distance itself from any agenda of enforcing intellectual property.

 

In November 2015, a working group had been set up to refine the working definitions of “substandard/spurious/falsely-labelled/falsified/counterfeit” (SSFFC) medical products. The definition adopted by the WHO on Nov 23 dropped the word counterfeit and uses the term falsified – which is said to be more in line with public health concerns regarding the problem of medicines that make false claims about what they contain or where they are from.

 

With this, the WHO has finally distanced its work on addressing the quality of medicines from an IP enforcement agenda. The definition of ‘falsified’ states that any consideration related to intellectual property rights does not fall within it.

 

It also clarifies that medical products should not be considered as falsified solely on the grounds that they are unauthorized for marketing in any given country.

 

Many member states, including India, had pointed out that instead of focusing on the issue of the safety, efficacy and quality of drugs, the use of the term ‘counterfeit’ was diverting regulatory attention to the issue of intellectual property infringement. India has been fighting this battle in WHO since 1992 when the term counterfeit was first included by the world body in references to medical products.

 

A senior official said several government agencies including the commerce and external affairs ministries had been working for over two decades to achieve this. “This is a major achievement for India and for access to medicines for the poor in the developing world,” he said.

 

The European Union claimed it was fighting trade in counterfeit medicines when almost 20 shipments of generic drugs were detained while in transit from India to several developing countries via Europe in 2008 and 2009.

 

A Freedom of Information Act request, filed by Health Action International, had revealed that these shipments were detained on allegations of infringing intellectual property. Under international law, goods cannot be detained in transit on the grounds of trademark or patent infringement as these are specific to a particular territory.

 

This had led to apprehension among groups working on healthcare access in developing countries that major US and European pharma companies were using increased enforcement of intellectual property laws as a tool to clamp down on legitimate trade in high-quality generic medicines between developing countries.

 

WHO settles India, EU medicine dispute

26 Nov 2016, The Hindu, Vidya Krishnan

 

In a significant victory for the global access to medicines campaign, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has dropped the term ‘counterfeit’ and retained ‘falsified’ to describe medicines of inferior quality.

 

The terms were being used interchangeably to confiscated Indian made generic drugs exported to other countries by showing that they were in violation of intellectual property.

 

In a meeting on Thursday, the WHO settled a long standing dispute between India and the European Union (EU) by clarifying that ‘counterfeit’— will now be used by member States with respect to protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

 

The European Union Free Trade Agreement (EU FTA) had reached a deadlock after affordable, safe-to-use generic drugs made in India were confiscated as ‘illegal’ and ‘counterfeit.’ Nearly 20 shipments of generic drugs, including basic antibiotics and anti-retrovirals, were detained while in transit from India to several developing countries via Europe between 2008 and 2009, derailing the free trade agreement negotiations.

 

Genuine medicines

 

“This decision by the WHO settles a long-standing battle about labelling of drugs. For far too long, genuine generic medicines have been labelled as counterfeit. The confusion had taken away the much needed attention from the substandard medicines — which is a bigger public health problem for developing countries.

 

Additionally, big pharmaceutical companies were using the term ‘counterfeit’ to describe generic medicines and disrupting trade of generic medicines,” said Leena Menghaney, South Asia head of humanitarian aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which relies on Indian medicines to treat a wide variety of diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS and other infections that afflict the poorest and most vulnerable populations.

 

Clarifying its position, the WHO said in a statement that, “the adopted definition drops the word counterfeit and uses the term falsified — which is much more in line with public health concerns regarding medicines, which make false claims about what they contain or where they are from, that represent a genuine problem.” The decision was taken by a technical working group on draft working definitions of substandard/spurious /falsely-labelled/falsified/counterfeit (SSFFC) medical products met on November 23.

 

The term ‘counterfeit’ was being described substandard or falsified medicines even though, under international law, — the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) — the definition of counterfeit is clearly targeted at one particular area: wilful infringement of trademark on a commercial scale. “In reality, campaigns and legislation against counterfeit drugs often have nothing to do with concerns about drug quality. Major U.S. and European pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in limiting competition from generic drugs, and are using increased enforcement of intellectual property laws as a tool to clamp down on the legitimate trade in high-quality generic medicines between developing countries,” said K.M. Gopakumar, Legal Advisor with the Third World Network (TWN), a transnational policy think tank.

 

NPA legal action against Government still alive as talks continue

28 Nov 2016, Pharmacy Business, Neil Trainis

 

The prospect of the National Pharmacy Association launching legal action against the government over its cuts to community pharmacy funding remains alive after the pharmacy body revealed talks with its lawyers are continuing.

 

Anger within pharmacy over cuts to its budget over the next two years has not dissipated and there has been speculation that somewhere within the profession legal proceedings will start.

 

The PSNC recently ruled out challenging the cuts through the courts but David Reissner, a partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, told Pharmacy Business that he sent a letter to the government’s lawyers on November 16 on behalf of an unnamed client informing them that they consider the government’s decision-making as “flawed.”

 

The NPA has vociferously confronted the government over its pharmacy efficiency measures and legal action from them remains a possibility.

 

“We are consulting with our legal advisors about next steps and we are also continuing with our political activities. We are going to continue campaigning until the government’s direction of travel shifts dramatically,” an NPA spokesperson told Pharmacy Business.

Choosing an authentication service supplier is just the start

Securing Industry, Graham Smith, 13 January 2016

Ahead of the publication of the Falsified Medicines Directive, relevant bodies in each country will be gathering to form the national medicines verification organisation (NMVO) with the responsibility of running the medicine verification system (NMVS). An important decision this committee will have to make first is to choose an authentication partner for the next 5 to 7 years.

 

Half of readers will reduce staff to counter funding cuts

C&D, Samuel Horti, 13 January 2016

A Chemist and Druggist poll reveals that a fifth of respondents are concerned that a funding cut of 6% will result in the closure of their pharmacy while nearly half expect to reduce their staff. A quarter of the votes further stated that the forecasted biggest impact of the cut will be a reduction in services offered to patients.

 

NPA Chairman renews attack on government cuts at House of Commons

Pharmacy Biz, Neil Trainis, 13 January 2016

At an event at the House of Commons, Ian Strachan renewed his attack against the UK Government regarding its announcement of funding cuts for community pharmacy and efforts towards more efficiencies. This proposal is subject to a consultation, ending on March 24, while the hub and spoke model will be the focus of another consultation this year.

 

Write to your local MP, says NPA

P3 Pharmacy, 13 January 2016

The NPA has called on independent pharmacists to mobilise the general public’s support, in particular by personally writing to their local MP. This letter should aim to explain the value of local pharmacies in order to gain political support.

Parliamentary Coverage

 

There is no Parliamentary coverage today.

 

Full Coverage

Choosing an authentication service supplier is just the start

Securing Industry, Graham Smith, 13 January 2016

Across Europe in the coming months many representatives from the pharmaceutical industry will be sitting down with people who they may know as colleagues or as competitors; those who they are in-step with and those who have a different point of view. These unlikely groupings will be forming the national medicines verification organisation (NMVO) in their respective countries whose responsibility will be to run the medicine verification system (NMVS) for that jurisdiction.

One of the first things that this important collective will have to do is make a choice. Not the one about who will be the chairman and other committee posts, although these will be essential, no they will need to choose a company who will be their authentication partner for the next 5-7 years. This company will not only be a key supplier, they will be the cornerstone of the NMVO’s ability to deliver on its responsibilities in regard to the Delegated Act and the Falsified Medicines Directive.

So maybe not a choice as profound as the one described by Yeats above but a pretty important one nevertheless.

To make that decision a number of criteria will be used – broadly covering areas such as:

Service Choice. Does the service meet all the requirements detailed in the Delegated Act?

Systems and Architecture. Where questions around the flexibility and scale of systems need to be answered. The Delegated Act calls for medicines to be guaranteed by an end-to-end verification system.

Security. This is very important in an authentication service. Essential questions will need to be considered – How will users be checked to ensure they are authorised to use the system? How secure is the database? What happens if security is breached? How will medicines be dispensed safely?

Design and Implementation. A complex area with a wide range of considerations, from commitments to service delivery and not just software. Plus how will incumbent authorisation and authentication procedures be supported?

Regional Requirements. Ultimately, who in the NMVO is accountable for the decision?

Support and Issue Resolution. Here one of the key questions relates to disaster recovery, is there a credible plan in place from the provider? How will the NMVO react if a suspicious pack is identified?

Regulation. In order for a service to achieve and maintain GxP compliance, all software needs to be validated that supports the service, this includes pharmacy and wholesaler software if this has been changed to interface with the repository. Additionally, all parties and systems that interact with the system – particularly those engaged in the exchange of data – may be subject to secondary audits to ensure system integrity.

Privacy and Compliance. An important topic where assurances around compliance with local privacy regulations and confidentiality of all information are required.

(These topics have been seen regularly in our meetings with prospective NMVO representatives and groups. Specific questions have been grouped together into broad themes for the purpose of this article.)

To paraphrase another well-known saying, as the manufacturers’ representatives, ‘You are paying the money so you get to make the choice’. There might be a temptation for that to be that for the NMVO. Job done, decision made, sit back and relax. That would be a mistake.

The responsibilities of the NMVO will be deeper and wider than simply choosing a supplier and passing all of the responsibility for delivery on to them. The NMVO will need to have a clear understanding of where its own liabilities begin and end. Without this knowledge it cannot start its recruitment of executive officers or to put in place the checks and balances required to ensure full compliance with not just the Delegated Act but also the expectations and demands of the ultimate customer, the patients in their country.

Which leads to the question, what happens if these standards are not met? Is there a process in place should a supplier, or the NMVO itself, fail to meet all that is expected of it?

Does the country’s national regulator step in if the system fails in its governance, cost control or actual ability to deliver the required levels of patient safety? What are the likely outcomes of such a decision?

On the positive side of this argument there maybe additional areas of influence and performance management where the NMVO could become involved. It surely does not have to stop with just delivering the minimum requirement? What about faster responses? Or more secure processes? What about an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders that drives continuous innovation and improvement? If I was not only paying for a service but also had the responsibility for shaping it and ensuring that it delivered to a European standard then I would want to ensure that I knew exactly what I could and could not do.

It would seem to make sense for the boundaries of influence on the one hand, and the consequences of poor performance on the other, to be fully understood by all concerned. This is a discussion that members of NMVO’s, confirmed or otherwise, should be having with each other and the Commission if necessary. Now is the time to do this and not when things start to go wrong.

 

NPA Chairman renews attack on government cuts at House of Commons

Pharmacy Biz, Neil Trainis, 13 January 2016

Ian Strachan, chairman of the National Pharmacy Association, renewed his attack on the government’s cuts to community pharmacy funding during a debate at the House of Commons, warning starkly that the plans will “disable” pharmacy and endanger patients’ safety.

In a committee room in the heart of the House of Commons, Strachan (pictured) used an event organised by Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham LPC to reiterate his staunch criticism of the government’s attempt to achieve efficiency savings through swingeing cuts as well as its desire to get people using online services to access medicines and introduce a hub and spoke dispensing model across community pharmacy.

The Department of Health’s proposals are the subject of a consultation which ends on March 24. Plans to introduce a hub and spoke model will be consulted on separately this year.

Strachan has been one of the more vigorous protesters to the 6% cut to community pharmacy funding, accusing the Department of Health and NHS England of “an assault” on pharmacy following the announcement of the reduction in revenue.

Addressing an audience of healthcare luminaries such as Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, and Gul Root, principal pharmaceutical officer at the Department of Health, as well as the Labour MP Kate Hoey, Strachan again pullled no punches.

“It’s difficult to be strategic when government want to pursue an October implementation of a series of proposals which will, if anything, disable community pharmacy and marginalise it,” he said.

“It’s a consultation, from my perspective, (which) is short on detail. We have got a threat right now to try and make people understand the value of this network and the pharmacists who work in it.

“The proposals to commoditise supply, to alternate supply, all of those have adverse implications to cost and safety. There’s proposals in there to make greater access to medicines through IT solutions, the internet, home delivery. If you think that’s going to reduce volume and demand, it won’t. It will increase volume and demand.

“The only way we will reduce volume and demand is by getting pharmacists close to patients because we are the experts at dealing with patients.

“It’s a series of unevidenced assertions which are extremely worrying for patients and for communities. And we’ll do every we can to try and redress that.”

Strachan’s remarks appeared to draw a response from Hoey, who called on the community pharmacy profession to not merely decry funding cuts but react more proactively.

“When there are cuts that are happening, we have to find ways of not just saying ‘these are dreadful, we must fight them,’ which obviously people will do in their own individual ways and whatever their party politics are,” she said.

“Surely also, sometimes (funding cuts) can be the instigator of actually making people work differently. There are a number of things that are happening that are actually, if not wasteful, certainly spending money that could be spent differently.”

She added: “Pharmacies are doing a huge amount of good work which sometimes the public take for granted. Maybe more has to be done to make sure they realise the effects, reductions in money.”

Dilip Joshi, chair of Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham LPC, said: “We do need to work together (but) working together is not just about health professionals. We need our politicians to facilitate this working together, create the right environment. We can’t be having top-down cuts and get ongoing efficient savings forever.”

 

Write to your local MP, says NPA

P3 Pharmacy, 13 January 2016

The National Pharmacy Association had called on independent pharmacies to begin “mobilising local political opinion”, in readiness for a “concerted campaign” against Department of Health proposals to cut pharmacy funding and introduce efficiencies. Independent pharmacies should write to their local MP about the value of local pharmacies, said an NPA statement.

“Today I have written to my own MP about the value of local pharmacies and I urge all NPA members to do the same. This is about beginning to mobilise political support across the country for what could be a long and difficult struggle ahead,” said NPA chairman Ian Strachan.

An NPA webinar on ‘Cuts and efficiencies’ will take place on the evening of 25 January. Mr Strachan will outline the NPA’s plans and the resources the association is making available to support campaigning activity. Registration is open to all at www.npa.co.uk/events.

“What we have seen so far is a jumble of half-explained ideas coming out of government, and a justifiably worried and angry response from the profession.

“The Government proposals are light on detail, but the direction of policy is already clear, and independents must mobilise to oppose it. It is a drift away from valuing local pharmacies and a retreat from any serious effort to maximise the benefits of the bricks and mortar pharmacy network,” added Mr Strachan.

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