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

Sector bodies have advised pharmacies to continue to dispense medicines as normal
Sector bodies have advised pharmacies to continue to dispense medicines as normal

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?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

167k is not a figure to be proud of considering how many items get dispensed in the UK on a daily basis. Ultimately FMD is a solution to a problem that no-one had.

Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

FMD is a the wosrt imposition pharmacies have ever have foisted on them...Roll on Brexit if only to bin this joke of an idea.

Darren Lewis, Community pharmacist

I’ve been having fun with Lorazepam scanning as Lormetazepam (on some systems). I’ve phoned the PMR supplier, who told me to phone NPA, who told me to phone MHRA. I also phoned the Pharmaceutical Company who told me 28 days to look into it. Last call was to the wholesaler who told me to phone the PMR supplier.... I can see why people cannot be bothered

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

What a complete waste of time.


Someone needs to audit how many fake packs have been dispensed in community pharmacy compared to how many the wholesalers recieve within a certain timescale. Whoever has the highest needs to bear the brunt of FMD.


You can bet your life savings it wouldn't be community pharmacy

Richard MacLeavy, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

Yes we are leading the fight against false medicines - we scan the pack, the system warns us it could be a false medicine and so we follow the advise of the FMD working group and dispense the medicine anyway. What a good investment 

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