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Pharmacy bodies ‘press’ government for greater powers to amend prescriptions

Pharmacists should urgently be given powers to make changes to prescriptions without the need for serious shortage protocols (SSPs), pharmacy leaders have said.

It comes after the government yesterday issued three SPPS allowing pharmacists to supply alternatives to three penicillin medicines amid supply issues.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said it is “pressing” the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) to give community pharmacy teams “greater flexibilities” to respond to supply issues currently affecting antibiotics medicines.

PSNC legal director Gordon Hockey yesterday (December 15) said the negotiator has “been pressing the DH to think broadly about what other measures could help to manage the current situation and consider the introduction of greater flexibilities, such as allowing pharmacists more professional discretion to amend prescriptions separate to SSPs”.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) chair Thorrun Govind also urged the DH to “amend medicines legislation to allow pharmacists to make minor amendments to a prescription without any protocol being needed” as “soon as possible”.

This law change would make the “supply of medicines easier and quicker for both pharmacists and patients”, she said.

“At present, a prescription can only be changed by the prescriber, which causes unnecessary workload for GPs and delays for patients,” Ms Govind added.

The RPS wants all pharmacists across England and Wales to be able to change prescriptions and “supply a different quantity, strength or formulation of a medicine…on a daily basis to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and the need for an SSP to be developed, signed and authorised by a minister”, Ms Govind said.

She added that “none of these proposed amends would involve therapeutic substitution, so pharmacists would not be involved in changing treatments” – and are already “standard routine practice” in hospitals and in Scotland.

The SSPs, while welcome, are a “short-term measure” and pharmacists report the protocols to be “bureaucratic and inflexible”, she said.

 

PSNC “not involved” in penicillin SSPs

 

Meanwhile, PSNC said that while the negotiator had asked the DH to issue SSPs to mitigate penicillin supply disruption, it was ultimately “not involved in the development of these protocols”.

“Our team is urgently clarifying some points to provide contractors with additional guidance,” Mr Hockey said.

PSNC is also seeking “assurances around the reimbursement of any alternatives supplied,” he added, pledging to publish “additional guidance as soon as possible”.

 

NPA seeks antibiotics supply taskforce

 

And in a statement issued today, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) called on health secretary Steve Barclay “to convene a medicines supply taskforce” to combat antibiotic supply issues, just as the government did when faced with acute hormone replacement therapy (HRT) shortages earlier this year.

In a letter sent to Mr Barclay this week, NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette said the organisation “strongly believes that this situation calls for a similar response from the government”.

He added: “It is imperative that we resolve this supply situation urgently and therefore we request that you convene a medicines supply taskforce, with all the relevant stakeholders in the supply chain, to urgently discuss and agree practical solutions to address the disruptions to the supply of medicines.”

NPA board member Olivier Picard, who took part in HRT taskforce meetings this summer, said that “getting people together is a necessary part of the process of fixing this chaos”.

“It’s not just HRT and it’s not just antibiotics, it’s a systemic and long-standing problem and needs government to grip it,” he added.

The DH yesterday issued SSPs for three penicillin medicines, after demand for antibiotics used to treat strep A shot up this month, leaving “some pharmacists…unable to supply the medicine” for patients' prescriptions.

Last week, CEO of the Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies Leyla Hannbeck said she had approached the DH “on numerous” occasions to suggest setting up “a roundtable with all parties involved in the supply chain” to suggest solutions to antibiotic supply challenges "with a view to plan and be better prepared". 

 

 

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