HDA UK MEDIA AND POLITICAL BULLETIN – 24 August 2017

MEDIA SUMMARY 

UK paves way for compromise over ECJ jurisdiction post-Brexit
Financial Times, George Parker, 23 August 2017

The Financial Times has reported that the UK “paved the way for compromise” with its recent position paper on the jurisdiction of the ECJ. While Theresa May insisted that the UK was “forging its own legal path”, the paper also conceded that the ECJ will play a key role in Britain after Brexit. Wednesday’s announcement proposed a number of ways that the ECJ might continue to have influence after ‘direct jurisdiction’ ends. It identified previous EU agreements with countries not in the bloc, which used “language identical in substance” to EU law and specified that ECJ decisions should be heeded in interpreting those cases. There has been little pushback from Conservative MPs, and there is recognition in the EU that compromises will need to be made on its demand that EU citizen rights be overseen by the ECJ.

Department of Health releases two consultations
Department of Health, 23 August 2017

On August 23rd, the Department of Health released two consultations regarding controlling the cost of branded medicines and proposed requirements for health product information.

Controlling the Cost of Branded Medicines
The government is consulting on the statutory scheme that controls the prices of branded health service medicines. This builds on a previous consultation from 2015. The aim of the proposals under consultation is to achieve alignment with the current voluntary pharmaceutical price scheme (PPRS) agreed to in 2014. The main proposals to this consultation are

  • the introduction of a payment system similar to that in the 2014 PPRS
  • changes to the provisions on maximum prices, including removing the requirement for a 15% price cut
  • changes to the information requirements placed on companies

Draft regulations and a draft impact assessment have also been published.

Information about health service products: proposed requirements
The government is seeking information on draft requirements for the provision of information related to the sales and purchases of health service products. The proposed regulations cover medicines, medical supplies and other related products. The main requirements of the current proposals include:

  • manufacturers, importers and wholesalers to provide quarterly information about sales and purchases of generic medicines and special medicinal products
  • those involved in the supply chain to record, keep and provide on request information related to sales and purchases of health service medicine, medical supplies and other related products
  • marketing authorisation holders, manufacturers and importers to tell government about any discontinuation and supply shortages of medicines

Draft regulations, and a draft impact assessment, can be found here.

Increasing demand for home delivery of medication
Post and Parcel, 23 August 2017

New research from CitySprint Healthcare has indicated that 84% of pharmacists have reported an increased demand for the home delivery of medication. While appetite may be growing, 57% of pharmacists are unclear about legislation surrounding home delivery or not aware that there is legislation at all. More than three quarters of pharmacies (91% of independent pharmacies) now offer home deliveries. The Chief Development Officer of CitySprint commented on the findings, saying “it’s evident from our research that the legal obligations around pharmacy-to-home deliveries are far from clear cut”. As well, 89% of pharmacies are relying on paperwork or verbal confirmation to monitor the chain of custody and proof of delivery for prescription. While most pharmacies (72%) employ their own delivery drives, a third use existing staff to deliver, yet only 17% say they are worried about medication going missing.

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Increasing demand for home delivery of medication
Post and Parcel, 23 August 2017

New research from CitySprint Healthcare has indicated that 84% of pharmacists in the UK have reported an increased demand for the home delivery of medication in the last year.

But while the public’s appetite for the service may be growing, well over half (57%) of pharmacists in the UK are either unclear about legislation surrounding the delivery of medicines to patients’ homes, or are not aware of whether there is legislation at all.

The CitySprint research also indicated that more than three-quarters of pharmacies (rising to 91% for those in independent pharmacies) now offer home deliveries. But they are having to deal with those deliveries on top of an already heavy workload: on average, pharmacy staff spend 11 hours a week managing deliveries, with those in independent pharmacies investing even more – 13 hours – of their time.

“In a third of cases,” said CitySprint, “it is pharmacists themselves, rather than other on-site staff, who are forced to spend their time on logistics management, despite facing pressure to evolve pharmacies and expand business offerings.

“In fact, it is fears about drains on finances and staff that are holding some pharmacies back from addressing the demand for home delivery services at all. Almost half (45%) of those not currently offering home delivery claimed to be worried that cost to the business would be too high, while 41% said they were concerned about the impact on staff time. A quarter stated they were troubled about funding cuts and aiming to keep costs down as a result.”

CitySprint Healthcare’s research revealed that most pharmacies are not embracing technology to improve the efficiency of delivery services and safeguard security. The majority (89%) are relying on paperwork or verbal confirmation to monitor the chain of custody and proof of delivery for prescriptions.

While most pharmacies (72%) employ their own delivery drivers, a third (32%) use existing staff to undertake deliveries and 6% rely on taxis or local minicabs. However, only 17% say they are worried about medication going missing.

Darren Taylor, Chief Development Officer, CitySprint, commented on the findings: “Pharmacies are under unprecedented funding and regulatory pressures – and the growing demand for home delivery can be an increasing drain on resources if not managed effectively. Although pharmacists should have oversight of home delivery services, managing all aspects of the offering is not sustainable for expert staff members that could be adding value elsewhere in the business.”

“It’s also evident from our research that the legal obligations around pharmacy-to-home deliveries are far from clear cut for pharmacists. It is vital the security of the medicine supply chain extends to home delivery and, as this responsibility remains with the pharmacist, we are calling on the industry to work together to provide clearer guidance in this area.”

From Factory to Pharmacy

As part of our mission to build awareness, understanding and appreciation of the vital importance of the healthcare distribution sector, we developed an infographic explaining the availability of medicines. It identifies the factors that can impact drug supply, as well as the measures that HDA members undertake day in, day out to help mitigate the risks of patients not receiving their medicines.

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