HDA UK Media And Political Bulletin – 17 March 2017

Most UK pharmacists satisfied with wholesaler distribution model study claims
Pharmacy Business, Neil Trainis, 16 March 2017

A study commissioned by the European Healthcare Distribution Association has found that most UK pharmacists are satisfied with the distribution system of pharmaceutical short-line and full-line wholesalers. Conducted by the Institute of Pharmaeconomic Research, the study found that 72% of pharmacists were satisfied with the wholesale model. The safety of medicines was also looked into, with results suggesting there is high confidence in wholesalers’ ability to protect against falsified medicines.


Why legal action is not the solution to funding cuts

The Pharmaceutical Journal, Terry Maguire, 15 March 2017


Northern Ireland pharmacy contractor Terry Maguire argues that legal action may not be the solution against the funding cuts announced by the UK Government. Northern Ireland experienced similar 10% cuts in funding in 2010-2011. While it was forecasted that 10% of businesses would close because of the funding cuts, no pharmacies have closed as a direct result of those cuts. Alternative actions are available to mitigate the impact of the cuts, such as reducing business costs and promoting the value of pharmacy through a public relations campaign.


Parliamentary Coverage

House of Commons, Written Answers, Thursday 16 March 2017


Kevin Hollinrake, MP:  With reference to the study published by Oxford Academic on 17 February 2017 on inappropriate checks undertaken by online pharmacies, if he will discuss with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency means to prevent the online sale of antibiotics and other medicines without appropriate checks.


Department of Health

Nicola Blackwood, MP:

Standards for United Kingdom online pharmacy services are the responsibility of the relevant professional regulatory bodies. These are the General Pharmaceutical Council and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is working with the General Medical Council, the General Pharmaceutical Council and the Care Quality Commission to monitor issues arising from online services. The four regulatory bodies issued a joint statement on 3 March stressing that providers and healthcare professionals working for online services must provide safe and effective care, including following professional guidelines on this matter. The Department is aware and supportive of this important work.


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Why legal action is not the solution to funding cuts

The Pharmaceutical Journal, Terry Maguire, 15 March 2017


As pharmacy contractors in England suffer budget cuts and their leaders instigate legal action, Northern Ireland pharmacy contractor Terry Maguire argues why this might not be a good idea and what English contractors might learn from their Celtic cousins.


Eye-watering funding cuts of £170m to community pharmacies in England, which equates to 6% of the community pharmacy budget, were announced in December 2015 by the Department of Health.


The cuts, which were put in place from December 2016[1], work out as a reduction in income of about 15% per contractor. Consequently, many contractors fear their businesses may no longer be viable and are seeking action. And so, in November 2016, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) — which negotiates the community pharmacy contract on behalf of contractors in England and Wales — applied to the High Court for a judicial review of the decision to implement the cuts, on the grounds that it believes that Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for health, failed to carry out a lawful consultation on the proposals[2]. The National Pharmacy Association (NPA), which represents independent pharmacies, launched a second judicial review shortly after[3].


It is understandable why such drastic cuts would instigate fear, anxiety, anger and potential hostility among pharmacists, as seen from the reactions of leading pharmacy organisations and through some of the correspondence in The Pharmaceutical Journal. All contractors, but especially those in small, independent pharmacies, understandably feel vulnerable, isolated and powerless. However, from our own experience in Northern Ireland, it is questionable whether costly legal action against the government is the best solution.


The Northern Ireland situation


Contractors in Northern Ireland experienced a cut in remuneration of about 10% in 2010–2011 when there was an imposition of the English Drug Tariff prices on Northern Ireland. Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) — which represents community pharmacy contractors in negotiations on services, the pharmacy contract and remuneration and reimbursement — forecast that 10% of businesses would close. It was painful, but somehow we survived. We are all still here and no pharmacies closed as a direct result of those cuts.


Faced with such a serious challenge to contractors’ livelihoods, there were a number of things that could be done to mitigate the disaster of closure, including cutting business costs, garnering public support, going on strike, taking legal action and getting back to the negotiating table.


Legal action: a long and winding road


With legal proceedings in process and hearings set for March 2017, this is where the action for contractors in England is. Solicitors believe legal action is justified and have come up with a proposition that the cuts are unlawful. Legal opinion claims grounds for a judicial review based on the fact that: there was a lack of genuine consultation; the government has ignored what is considered a “fair and reasonable” return for contractors; there was a lack of an evidence base for pushing hub-and-spoke dispensing models; and the cuts are an inappropriate tool for delivering the right number of pharmacies in the right places[4].


In Northern Ireland, our experience with judicial reviews has been a mixture of pleasure and pain


Perhaps many in pharmacy will view launching a legal challenge, given the severity of the cuts, a reasonable option. I strongly disagree.


In Northern Ireland, our experience with judicial reviews has been a mixture of pleasure and pain, yet, in the end, some seven years after we started down the legal route, we are meekly back at the negotiating table and are soon to have a new settlement agreed while paying a hefty undisclosed legal bill (estimated to be up to half a million pounds) for which we got no benefit.


A legal challenge through judicial review must be made on specific objective issues and no doubt the PSNC and NPA’s legal teams will have clearly defined these in setting out their cases. In Northern Ireland, our first judicial review[5]found that the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) failed to comply with its statutory duty to publish a fit-for-purpose Drug Tariff, which details the amount paid to pharmacy contractors for NHS services including both reimbursement and remuneration. We were delighted with this finding because struggling businesses got significant reimbursement of monies cut from the budget over some three years. However, the DHSSPS simply implemented a process to remedy its legal deficiencies. It published a Northern Ireland Drug Tariff and began to extract the monies again. This led to the second judicial review[6] where CPNI claimed only a cost-of-service inquiry (CoSI) on the sector would provide the data to establish “fair and reasonable” payment for running a pharmacy service. CPNI claimed, with some justification — and the judge agreed — that the DHSSPS had “failed in its basic duty to acquaint itself with relevant information … and that it has not collected the basic economic facts it needed to inform its decisions”. However the judge did not direct DHSSPS to repay contractors.


This ruling was appealed both by DHSSPS and CPNI (both parties had different aspects of the ruling that they did not agree with) and, before the appeal was heard in December 2012, the parties signed an agreement that the DHSSPS would provide interim payments to contractors for two years on a non-recurrent basis until completion of a CoSI by October 2013. The CoSI was to “adopt a collaborative approach” between pharmacy negotiators and the DHSSPS.


Everything seemed to have been agreed and was going well. But then the DHSSPS failed to complete the CoSI over the following three years and CPNI sought continuation of the annual interim payment. The DHSSPS refused. Cue the third judicial review[7].


A year on from initiating judicial review number three, judge Seamus Tracy ruled that the DHSSPS was not wrong when it decided not to pay the interim payment in year three of the second judicial review agreement even though a CoSI, which would establish the true costs of providing a pharmacy service, had not been completed. CPNI claimed that the lack of “collaboration” by DHSSPS was the problem, but the judge did not agree.


The judge believed there was no evidence that DHSSPS failed to provide “fair and reasonable” remuneration. In Northern Ireland, retained purchase profit (RPP) — the profit pharmacies can earn on dispensing drugs through cost-effective purchasing — would provide £16.5m to contractors but margin surveys showed that, for the years in dispute (2011/2012 and 2012/2013), the margins were £27.75m and £32.6m, respectively, and was expected to be £28m for 2013/2014. So CPNI lost in the third judicial review, was handed a large legal bill (over a quarter of a million pounds including the DHSSPS legal costs) and contractors have spent the past year trying to mend fences and move to a new negotiated arrangement. We still need to address pharmaceutical needs — the number of contracts for our population — and we will be brought round to that soon enough.


The government will eventually get its way… A judicial challenge is no substitute for reponsible negotiations


There has been a lack of strategic engagement between the DHSSPS and CPNI. The contractor body has resisted setting a vision and strategy for innovation and development of the pharmacy service and network. Most discussions are based exclusively on the DHSSPS deciding on something and CPNI reacting to it. This confrontational approach only produces flawed short-term arrangements. There is also a risk that the DHSSPS might start to negotiate with other bodies (say, a large multiple pharmacy chain) if the relationship with CPNI continues to break down.


I have personally opposed the use of judicial reviews as a means of progressing the interests of community pharmacy and remain to be convinced of their merit. Even if one might win a judicial review, in the long-term, government, acting in the public interest as it will always claim, will eventually get its way. A judicial challenge, therefore, is no substitute for proper and responsible negotiations.


Sue Sharpe, chief executive of the PSNC, says she has “reached the end of the road” with the Department of Health[8]. If this is truly the case then the PSNC, as a negotiator on behalf of pharmacy contractors, is in real trouble. The future value of pharmacy — which includes community pharmacy — is clinical and the government is committed to achieving this with a rebalance in funding from our medicines supply function. Unless we align our long-term visions for our businesses with that of the government, the network will suffer as clinical pharmacy services, and the remuneration associated with them, shift to other venues such as GP surgeries.

It is difficult for most contractors to accept this but our insistence on fighting for a status quo position — which pharmacists in England have essentially done for more than 30 years despite a new contract in 2005 — will only create crisis after crisis such as the current challenge.

Other options need to be considered.


Alternative solutions


Cutting business costs, particularly those associated with delivering patient services, should be a last resort. But we have reached that stage so it has to be done. Contractors will need to ensure that every pound of business cost is justified. This will be a painful but essential task. At my pharmacy, we avoided cutting staff – natural wastage helped (two members of staff left and we did not replace them) — but we aggressively reduced insurance and energy costs and focused on maximising profits from other sources, such as smoking cessation and minor ailment services, and community projects paid from community development funding or public health purses. This was difficult. We had to ask why we provided services that no doubt benefit patients but are not commissioned and merely reflect competitive pressures. Monitored dosage systems and prescription collection and delivery services spring to mind. At our pharmacy, we began charging new patients who wanted monitored dosage systems. I have also heard of contractors who stopped offering a delivery service.


Most pharmacists do a great job and patients and customers know it, which means politicians should, in theory, also appreciate us. The NPA and the PSNC, using their network, ran a highly effective public relations campaign and this will bring benefits now and in the future. This needs to continue and not lose momentum because, unfortunately, pharmacy is competing with other healthcare sectors and beyond to fight against funding cuts.


The option of strikes is difficult because contractors are competitors. Sharpe has conceded that the PSNC is unable to drive strike action[9] and she is right. Pharmacists in the Republic of Ireland chose strike action in 2009[10] in response to significant government cuts of 34%. The strike lasted 11 days before government threatened legal action against contractors for failing to provide a service. After 11 days ranks broke and the strike collapsed with little public sympathy. It was a disastrous strategy.


As much as I want to wish the PSNC and the NPA well in their judicial reviews, the result will only, at best, postpone what is inevitable: that is the need for real and meaningful negotiations with the government about the development of a fit-for-purpose pharmacy network.

Health Select Committee to hear evidence on funding cuts

Chemist and Druggist, Annabelle Collins and Grace Lewis, 12 December 2016


The Health Service Committee will hear evidence from pharmacy bodies and health officials on the UK Government’s decision to cut pharmacy funding in England by £113 million from this month. PSNC confirmed that the conclusions of the upcoming independent review of community pharmacy services, conducted by King’s Fund director of policy Richard Murray, and due later this month, will also be considered in this session. The hearing, originally planned for today, was postponed to early next year so that the evidence is not constrained by the legal action launched by PSNC last week.


The news was also reported by Pharmacy Biz.


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Shadow housing minister: Funding cuts ‘short-sighted’

C&D, Annabelle Collins, 20 January 2016

Teresa Pearce, Labour MP, stated that a 6% funding cut would hit parents and elderly the hardest as well as reinforce patient isolation. She is currently campaigning to open a new pharmacy in her constituency in South London.


Pharma Packaging Trends in 2016

Express Pharma, Usha Sharma, 20 January 2016

Track and trace technology, such as serialization and electronic pedigree, play an important role in efforts to prevent counterfeits to enter the pharma supply chain. Other packaging trends include an increasing interest for environmental sustainability and the use of cloud technology in improving healthcare systems.

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Pharma Packaging Trends in 2016

Express Pharma, Usha Sharma, 20 January 2016


TRACK AND TRACE crucial for pharma supply chain

Global markets today are flooded with falsified medicines, posing a perilous threat to the pharmaceutical industry and patients alike. It tarnishes the goodwill of the pharma companies who are unaware about the counterfeits making their way to their supply chain system. This chain typically consists of manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and pharmacies before the medicines are made available for the end consumers at the pharmacy store.

In such a scenario, track and trace technology plays a crucial role for any pharma supply chain. It avoids security lapses and works to the advantage of pharma companies. Track and trace regulation is one of the tools which aims to stop the illegal and dangerous counterfeit medicines from reaching the end consumers and ensures that all the products are easily identified. It helps in labelling the drugs and ascertains easy tracking at every level of the supply chain.

Report on track and trace in the pharma industry is based on the experience of the team at ACG Inspection in various countries across the globe, particularly, Brazil, China, India, the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Europe.

Most of the regulatory authorities across the globe are creating a two-step policy to implement track and trace regulations. The first phase is to implement serialisation at multiple packaging levels. The second phase is to implement an electronic pedigree, where companies will create a relationship between various packaging levels and share data across the supply chain.

There are many regions where pharma regulatory systems are weak, due to which, the probability of spurious drugs increases. Globally, the importance of implementing a comprehensive track and trace system is to monitor the entire production and distribution cycle of pharma products has grown strong.

With disciplined rules and regulations, guiding the supply chain system of pharma companies, standardised identification solutions are sure to put an end to spurious medicines and secure the health of consumers worldwide.



The challenges, which the pharma industry face today, include counterfeiting, theft, diversion, and false returns to manufacturers. This is because the product passes through a complex distribution network where its authenticity at every level cannot be checked due to the absence of data-sharing systems. Serialisation makes every product unique and, therefore, it is believed that effective serialisation of medicines would cut down any chances of counterfeiting in the supply chain.

Serialisation involves printing a unique serial number on every product in addition to other details such as batch number, shelf life and Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). It provides visibility and full traceability throughout the supply chain. Many regulatory bodies have built their framework around the GS1 Standard.

Serialisation is done across various levels of packaging and these are defined under three specific categories — Primary, secondary and tertiary.

At the primary level, pharma companies use a GS1 2D Data Matrix to barcode products such as blisters, injections, mono-cartons, etc. (Currently, this is not being enforced in a majority of countries).

At the secondary level, all the primary level packs are clubbed together as a parent unit of primary level packs and only one barcode is given to it with complete essential information.

At the tertiary level, only the final packaging is chosen to identify every lot of the product, ensuring no malfeasance in the supply chain.

Success in serialisation is achieved through vigilance, planning and implementation. Serialisation, when followed diligently, results in economic benefits, better brand protection, and secures customers’ confidence in the brand as well as the company.


Electronic pedigree

The pharma supply chain is really dynamic and complex, and although a majority of the prescription drugs consumed by patients are safe, there are several opportunities to introduce a counterfeit drug into the supply chain. Serialisation was the first step towards attacking the counterfeiting markets. With the first phase in place, a customer would be able to tell if the products were genuine or not, through a simple verification process.

When a spurious drug enters into the system, the first question that arises in our minds is where and how did it enter into the system? As the pharma supply chain is really complex, there are multiple potential places from where the counterfeit drug could have been introduced into the supply chain. This is due to the lack of information visibility throughout the chain. In order to address this, regulatory boards are enforcing the implantation of an electronic pedigree. This contributes to protect the supply chain from any mishaps. It also helps pharma companies to address problems of counterfeiting wherever and whenever it arises, as data is recorded and shared at each and every point in the supply chain.

An electronic pedigree encapsulates all the details from sales to purchases made as well as trading of the drugs and their date of transactions through an electronic medium. The main purpose of the electronic pedigree is to safeguard consumers from counterfeit medicines.

The electronic pedigree is an auditable electronic record to track and trace drugs as they move from manufacturing unit to the end users. Its accuracy ensures safe and healthy drugs for consumers.

The benefits of an electronic pedigree

  • Authenticates pharma products for safe consumption
  • Automates internal procedures
  • Improves efficiency and reduces cost of operating
  • Improves accuracy and visibility of inventory information at various levels
  • Improves inventory control
  • The overall opportunity v/s risk

We need to be aware about where these steps will lead to. A few basic assumptions are:

As regulators accede to industry demands, who is the apparent ultimate winner or loser?

What segment will be benefited or damaged? The consumer, as it exposes him to harm or the industry as it lags behind its global competitors? It mostly depends on how objectively the norms and the laws are designed and implemented. The expertise implicit in serialisation and secure packaging should be easy to understand and implement.

Harmonisation at global level will not only be beneficial to the consumer world, but will also help various industrial players to implement efficient and universally proven solutions. Further, it will also ensure secure traceability of the entire supply chain at a global level.

– Siddhant Bhambhani, Business Development, ACG Inspection Systems


Pharma industry needs to look at ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Pharma PET bottles containing liquid solutions were banned in India, though the scientific basis of it is still in doubt. National Green Tribunal and Supreme Court of India are pursuing cases against plastic and other solid wastes generated due to various packaging applications, especially against ‘single use’ packaging.


Regulation and sustainability

Regulation by courts, if not the governments, seems to be the future trend in waste management, water management and larger area of sustainability. It is the right point for companies and pharma industry to look and build structures, which not only comply with the present and upcoming regulations but reap them financial reward.


Inherent sustainability

Energy, water and waste streams: Reducing energy footprint in manufacturing the packaging in partnership with the vendor would benefit both. More importantly, pharma waste disposal in water systems has a negative feedback effect on pharma industry across its value chain.

For instance if antibiotics waste is dumped in a river, downstream population using the water would become drug resistant over a period of time. Once the disease occurs taking a more virulent drug resistant form, the present drug sales will drop and the R&D investment would be lost. Even if the drug is generic, the sales drop would impact the companies’ manufacturing and selling this particular drug. They would lose the market. A simple act of dumping waste water done by an employee or a process would impact the company. This is the financial and economic impact of environmental sustainability.


Pharma packaging, communication and adherence to drug dosage

A peer-reviewed study published in Clinical Therapeutics of more than 3.1 million Walmart pharmacy patients and MWV’s Shellpak calendar blister packaging concluded that “a Shellpak-based adherence strategy could provide a substantial cumulative public health benefit when broadly implemented over a large population. Not only does increased medication compliance reduce hospitalisations, nursing home stays, lost work days, etc., but greater refill adherence can also result in financial benefits for pharma manufacturers—an increase of eight per cent to 14 per cent, estimates suggest. And industry knows the impact of eight to 14 per cent sales increase.

The above point has two components

  • Firstly, the responsibility of the pharma companies is much more than just researching and manufacturing the drug
  • Secondly, communicate through drug packaging in a way that the impact is felt across the value chain; the patients’ health, hospitals, doctors and the finally the company’s profitability.

Would not this be ‘real’ sustainability, the real profitability, rather the ‘true value’ of any drug? Can we start thinking in terms of ‘value’ rather than our cost-centric strategies?


Excess packaging and extended packaging

We see many pharma packs containing multiple layers of materials. Is this excess packaging really required? Rather than working on reducing the weight of each layer, can we work on reducing the number of layers? Can we use alternatives of PVC (a known carcinogen), such as PET, which by the way will also pre-empt the regulation against PVC blisters and its waste?

Can we work with the retailer to reduce, if not completely eliminate, polyethylene bags given with each medicine? Can we go beyond the manufacturer’s responsibility and contribute to reduce environmental degradation due to landfill waste?

Environmental sustainability includes financial sustainability. The pharma industry just has to look at environmental sustainability to see the reflection of profits and value delivered for all the stakeholders of its products, the life-saving drugs.


Implementing sustainability across the value chain

The pharma industry in India can embed environment sustainability strategy in its corporate strategy (first of which is appointing a Chief Sustainability Officer with cross functional expertise and authority). The question maybe asked, Why?

These may be due to any or a combination of the following factors. They are increasing or maintaining brand reputation/value (CIPLA); ambition for social and environmental leadership (P&G); need for competitive advantage; stakeholder pressure (as happened to Indian Pharma companies in the US, Russia etc.); rising energy costs (as in many units in Gujarat, reducing impact through solar and energy efficient installations), and last but not the least pre-empt regulatory compliances.

Challenges to implementation

  • Budget challenges
  • Difficulty in demonstrating Return on Investment (RoI)
  • Fear of disrupting present processes and even mindset
  • Lack of knowledge of implementation and its impacts
  • Action for implementation

Incorporate sustainability matrix across the value chain

  • Adopt or expand sustainable sourcing of materials and sustainable materials (like biodegradable plastics
  • Implementing staff and customer collaboration and education initiatives
  • Redesigning products
  • Work on carbon, water and energy footprint
  • Impact of sustainability implementation

An Aberdeen Group, May 2009 report on sustainability states how profitability has been increased drastically by taking small steps by top 20 per cent of an industry. (Reduction in percentage is marked as –ve and increase as +ve)

Say, if one objective of compliance in packaging delivers better profitability and adherence to doses, thus greater value, then it should be considered as part of the whole healthcare economics analysis and not looked at as some add-on feature. Also, conflating CSR with environment sustainability is to be avoided, whether due to lack of knowledge or as a greenwash gimmick.

One thing sustainability creates is evaluation of all impacts and benefits side-by-side. Since medications have a much larger social, environmental and economic impacts, the pharma industry in India need to look at total value delivered to all stakeholders.

– Pranay Kumar, Chief Environment Officer, Vasudha Ecofriends Projects


The solution lies in CLOUD TECHNOLOGY

The Indian pharma industry contributes to research and development, clinical research and laboratory testing for a wide range of generic and branded drugs. This industry also exports such drugs globally, contributing to India’s international growth.

The global pharma industry includes countries that either manufacture or consume pharma and healthcare products/services. Globally, the industry is complex, and is characterised by varying standards of trade, operation, compliance and technology use. Typically, developed nations have better regulation and governance to manage citizen healthcare, but is accompanied by a high cost of healthcare. In comparison, growing nations typically have a lower cost of healthcare.


Technology and its role in the Indian pharma industry

Serialisation and track and trace technology is a big part of the global commerce industry, as well as for the pharma industry in India. With mega trends like big data, cloud and the Internet of Things, we anticipate that adoption will continue as the Indian pharma industry matures and as machine data generated reaches a tipping point that accelerates mass adoption.

As global and Indian pharma companies extend their reach, they will need to enable capabilities with these mega trends in mind that accelerate their success.

This includes:

  • Manufacturers being able to track and trace all goods in their supply chain and know who specifically to reach out to when a recall is required
  • Stakeholders understanding the Chain of Custody at both the ingredient and finished goods level
  • Stakeholders in the Supply Chain being able to identify whether a product is genuine or counterfeit
  • Patients being able to scan a medicines and learn if they are likely to have an allergic reaction to specific ingredients in a drug they are purchasing
  • Patient being empowered with information about the drugs they consume
  • Doctors being able to monitor if their patients are on schedule with a prescribed course of the drugs

While India has created standards on serialisation and track and trace, many pharma companies are unable to comply because of limited investments in technological infrastructure, or in supply chain considerations including the size of existing packaging or additional packaging material – most of which is exceedingly high for generic drug manufacturers.

Pharma companies who have adopted such technologies are usually in the branded drugs space, and have to comply with regulations implemented by countries that they export to. The local industry is lagging in this area due to considerations including price sensitivity. That said, we have seen an encouraging trend of drug companies transforming their technological infrastructure, and enjoying huge advantages when exporting to a global audience.



While we believe that India will see a fair share of serialisation and track & trace technology adoption in the future, there needs to be the ‘tipping point’. There are two primary factors to this tipping point. First, clearly visible use cases which benefit the consumer beyond just drug regulation and second, increased consumer education to improve their expectations on drug companies and the medication they provide.

In fact, there are already existing technologies and services which reduce the high initial overheads that pharma companies incur in serialisation and track and trace, and the solution for this lies in the adoption of cloud technology.

– Kingshuk Ghosh, Manager, HPE Software Professional Services, Asia Pacific & Japan, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Independents rally to call for coordinated response to cuts

P3 Pharmacy, Sam Healey, 4 January 2016

P3 Pharmacy reports on the National Pharmacy Association’s initiative, which already gathered hundreds of independent pharmacists to respond to the NHS’s plan for efficiencies. Ian Strachan, NPA Chairman, stated that these efficiencies could potentially result in the closure of many local pharmacies. A petition supporting this action has reached nearly 8,000 signatures, close to the 10,000 necessary to receive a response from the government.


6,000 signatures on petition to stop pharmacy funding cuts

C&D, Samuel Horti, 4 January 2016

An online petition calling for the Government to scrap the announced funding cuts has been launched by Paul Mason, chair of the Barnsley local pharmaceutical committee (LPC), at the end of December and has already reached more than 6,000 signatures.


The NPA’s initiative and the online petition are also covered by Pharmacy Business.


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Independents rally to call for coordinated response to cuts

P3 Pharmacy, Sam Healey, 4 January 2016

Hundreds of independent pharmacists have signed up to take part in a coordinated response from the independent sector to NHS England proposals for ‘efficiencies’, says the National Pharmacy Association.

Pharmacists who sign up will be given resources and hands-on support to build the evidence base required to make a compelling case to Government and NHS.

“The Government is conducting a dangerous experiment which could see local pharmacies close, thereby reducing people’s access to pharmaceutical and healthcare advice, and putting extra pressure on GPs and hospitals. The current drift of policy puts at risk a part of the health system that holds the key to solving many of its problems. Patients would be the biggest losers,” said NPA chairman, Ian Strachan.

“Our voice is most powerful when NPA members are actively involved, so we are asking independents to step forward at what could be an important moment in pharmacy history. It is vital that we all play our part in the coming months.”

A petition to stop the cuts has also been launched with nearly 8,000 signatures. The petition titled ‘Stop cuts to pharmacy funding and support pharmacy services that save NHS money’, is currently 3,112 signatures away from reaching 10,000 at which point the government will have to respond. If it reaches 100,000 signatures it will be considered for parliamentary debate.


Hundreds of independents join campaign against NHS plans

Pharmacy Business, Neil Trainis, 4 January 2016

The National Pharmacy Association has claimed that hundreds of independent pharmacists have backed its campaign opposing NHS England’s controversial plans to introduce centralised dispensing hubs and support for the online supply of medicines.

Pulling no punches, Ian Strachan, the chairman of the NPA (pictured), accused the government of “conducting a dangerous experiment” with its attempt to generate efficiency savings. He said that, coupled with the £170 million cut to pharmacy’s funding for 2016-17, “could have serious unintended and irreversible consequences” for pharmacies and patients.

“The government is conducting a dangerous experiment which could see local pharmacies close, thereby reducing people’s access to pharmaceutical and healthcare advice, and putting extra pressure on GPs and hospitals,” Strachan said.

“The current drift of policy puts at risk a part of the health system that holds the key to solving many of its problems. Patients would be the biggest losers.

“The Government’s approach is to combine funding cuts with jumbled proposals for productivity gain, including support for ‘large scale automated dispensing’ and increased online supply of medicines.

“The proposals imply that pharmacy is just a distribution mechanism for product, rather than a valuable health and social care asset at the heart of communities.”

In a rallying call to independents, he added: “Our voice is most powerful when NPA members are actively involved, so we are asking independents to step forward at what could be an important moment in pharmacy history. It is vital that we all play our part in the coming months.”

The NPA said independents “will be given resources and hands-on support to build the evidence base required to make a compelling case to Government and NHS (and) mobilise public opinion and political support for local pharmacies.” The NPA urged those interested in getting involved to visit npa.co.uk/independents voice.

Five-year NHS strategy only mentions pharmacy twice

C&D, Emma Weinbren, 23 December 2015

The 5-year NHS plan only mentions pharmacy twice, compared to 13 references to GPs and 3 to nurses. The document promises a community pharmacy reform to improve primary care productivity but the nature of the reform is not specified. Another pledge is to increase access to primary care, in particular on weekends and evenings.


Pharmacy2U supply problems

PSNC, 24 December 2015

NHS England has issued a letter on the disruption to services that Pharmacy2U (P2U) is experiencing over the Christmas period.

The technical issues at P2U have resulted in some patients being unlikely to receive their ordered medicines until 11th January 2016.

The letter contains details of the arrangements being made to mitigate risk and inconvenience to patients.

NHS England letter – Important note regarding services provided by ‘Pharmacy2U’ over Christmas and New Year


Independents rally to NPA call for coordinated response to NHS England ‘efficiency’ plans

NPA, 4 January 2015

The National Pharmacy Association reports that hundreds of independents pharmacy have decided to take part in a joined-up response to the NHS proposal for “efficiencies”, including centralised dispensing and an increase of online medicine supply. This action will aim to:

  • Present a strong case to the Government and the NHS
  • Mobilise support from politics and the general public


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Five-year NHS strategy only mentions pharmacy twice

C&D, Emma Weinbren, 23 December 2015

NHS England plans to “support community pharmacy reform”, according to the document, but does not specify what that will involve

The strategy also references the role of pharmacists in GP practices

The Delivering the Forward View document, released yesterday (December 22), makes reference to the role of pharmacists in GP practices and improving primary care productivity by “supporting community pharmacy reform”.

But there is no mention of what the reform will entail in the document, designed to help the NHS achieve the goals set out in last year’s Five Year Forward View.

The original document outlined a vision for pharmacists to form large-scale primary care practices with GPs and pledged to make “far greater use” of the profession.

This week’s update stresses the importance of “balancing” the NHS budget in realising the plans, which aim to give 20% of the population “enhanced access” to primary care by March 2017. They also include improving access to primary care at weekends and evenings.

But it makes no mention of using community pharmacies to achieve this vision.

The document makes 13 references to GPs and three to nurses.

In June, NHS England’s deputy chief pharmaceutical officer Bruce Warner told C+D that pharmacy has a “huge role to play” in NHS England’s plans for the future.


Independents rally to NPA call for coordinated response to NHS England ‘efficiency’ plans

NPA, 4 January 2015

Hundreds of independent pharmacists have already registered to take part in a coordinated response from the independent sector to NHS England proposals for ‘efficiencies’, such as centralised dispensing and more online supply of medicines.

They will be given resources and hands-on support to build the evidence base required to make a compelling case to Government and NHS mobilise public opinion and political support for local pharmacies.

The NPA’s overall approach is to robustly oppose the current policy drift, which, together with funding cuts, risks undermining the community pharmacy network. At the same time, the NPA will help independents adapt to meet the genuine long-term challenges that exist in terms of patient expectations and NHS productivity.

NPA Chairman, Ian Strachan, said:

“The Government is conducting a dangerous experiment which could see local pharmacies close, thereby reducing people’s access to pharmaceutical and healthcare advice, and putting extra pressure on GPs and hospitals.  The current drift of policy puts at risk a part of the health system that holds the key to solving many of its problems. Patients would be the biggest losers.

“The Government’s approach is to combine funding cuts with jumbled proposals for productivity gain, including support for ‘large scale automated dispensing’ and increased online supply of medicines.  The proposals imply that pharmacy is just a distribution mechanism for product – rather than a valuable health and social care asset at the heart of communities.

“Fundamentally, the answers lie in universal implementation of what we know works well, not about relying on unproven measures that could have serious unintended and irreversible consequences.

“Our voice is most powerful when NPA members are actively involved, so we are asking independents to step forward at what could be an important moment in pharmacy history.  It is vital that we all play our part in the coming months.”

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.

See the Infographic

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