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Anti-counterfeit legislation delay 'good news' for pharmacists

Medicines verification system "has got to work", says BAPW executive director Martin Sawer

The delay of European anti-counterfeiting measures is "good news" for UK pharmacists, representatives and wholesalers have said.

Legislation requiring pharmacists to verify medicines' authenticity by scanning at the point of dispensing was due to be published this year. However, documents released by the European Commission indicate that this is now expected at the end of 2015.

Because EU member states are required to comply with this legislation within three years after it is published, this pushes the implementation deadline back from 2017 to late 2018.

This delay would allow pharmacists to ensure their systems were "aligned with the requirements" of the legislation, said Martin Sawer, executive director of the British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (BAPW), on Friday (November 24).

"It gives them more time to ensure that the pharmacy IT systems and the pharmacies can cope," he told C+D.

NPA public affairs manager Gareth Jones said the delay in publishing the legislation was likely due to the "intricacies" of producing "one detailed delegated act" to cover the systems of all 28 member states.

"The longer we have to work [out] the best way to make it work in pharmacy, the better, really," he added.

Last year, the NPA told C+D it hoped the seizure of counterfeit generic medicines across Europe would lead to all prescription medicines being scanned at the point of dispensing, rather than just drugs deemed high-risk.

A consultation on which drugs will be included closed in September.

How prepared do you feel for the introduction of medicines authentication at the point of dispensing? 

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I feel it is going to cause a delay for the patient. Albeit a small one, but those extra say 5 minutes will add up throughout the day. If you take that as a raw figure, you're looking at about 8 hours a week spent on verification per 100 patients assuming all scripts take the same amount of time to verify at point of dispensing.

Now consider the time cost of that system. Roughly a dispenser is earning about £7 for example who I presume will be doing the verification. That's £56 a week spent on verification per 100 patients. That's £224 a month. That's £2688 a year. Now if you're a chain of pharmacies, you're having to do that in every shop. Say you own 50 or so. That's £134,400 across a business.

Alisdair Jones, Locum pharmacist

There's no reason to think it will take more time - certainly not 5 minutes. In fact, by scanning it the software can verify that the dispenser has picked the correct item - thus reducing the chance of a dispensing error.

If it's done right, this could be a very positive step for patient safety and not only due to reduced counterfeits in circulation.

Christoph Krahenbuhl,

I would agree with that: Where implemented correctly, such point-of-dispense verification systems have shown they can operate without interfering with or causing delay to the processes in the pharmacy and will add significant patient safety benefits.

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