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167k FMD-compliant medicines dispensed, but false alerts continue

Up to 167,000 packs compliant with the EU’s medicines scanning law have been dispensed across the UK, but pharmacies are still dealing with false alerts.

The EU’s anti-counterfeit legislation, the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) – which requires all pharmacies to scan barcodes on medicines packaging at the point of dispensing – came into force on February 9.

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) said 8,970 community pharmacies in the UK – around 62% of the total – have registered with SecurMed, the non-profit organisation that manages the UK’s medicines verification systems.

“This is a huge achievement for community pharmacy, showing its commitment to patient safety, even in the light of Brexit and funding uncertainties,” the NPA told C+D last week (March 20).

Pharmacies still receiving false alerts

“With 167,000 FMD packs dispensed to date, the UK is leading the fight against falsified medicines,” the NPA added.

However, there are still issues with FMD systems displaying “false alerts”, it said.

The UK FMD Working Group for Community Pharmacy – which is managing the rollout across the sector – warned the day before the FMD came into force that “many ‘false positive’ alerts” were expected to be generated when pharmacy teams attempt to scan and decommission medicines.

The two most common error messages are “unknown product code” and “failed to find batch”, the group explained at the time. These are most likely to be caused by manufacturers not uploading relevant data to the system and do not necessarily indicate a falsified medicine.

Pharmacies are still receiving these false alerts more than a month later, the NPA said last week.

Pharmacy bodies have advised pharmacies to continue to dispense medicines as normal and the UK FMD Working Group for Community Pharmacy has issued guidance on managing false alerts on its website.

Has your pharmacy had any issues with its FMD system?

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