When the falsified medicines directive (FMD) comes into force in February 2019, it will require every pharmacy in the UK to scan barcodes, check tamper-proof devices and decommission medicines to prevent them from being reused.
In an exclusive interview with C+D last week (August 31), Alliance Healthcare managing director Jeremy Main said pharmacies should be prepared for the EU law by September 2018, so they are not caught off-guard by the Christmas and New Year rush.
The sector can no longer afford to “bury its head in the sand” about the legislation, as it will have a “big impact” on community pharmacy, Mr Main said.
“FMD is one of the big challenges we’ve got ahead,” he added. “It’s got to be implemented by February 2019, but we’ll really need to have done the work by September 2018, which is just two years away.”
Alliance Healthcare estimates that gearing up for the implementation of the legislation could cost millions, through buying new equipment – such as barcode scanners to track and trace medicines – and introducing new working practices for staff.
“We think we now fully understand what needs to be done, and we’re going to make sure that we implement the right solution to support our business and the whole industry,” Mr Main said.
Mr Main also said plans to introduce more automation in the sector – by allowing independent pharmacies to legally operate automated dispensing hubs – appeared to be “in the long grass” for now.
While Alliance Healthcare has gained some experience of operating central dispensing hubs from Boots – also owned by parent company Walgreen Boots Alliance – Mr Main said he still has concerns that hub-and-spoke is “not yet proven”.