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Be ready for EU scanning law 6 months early, warns Alliance

Jeremy Main: The sector can no longer "bury its head in the sand" about the EU legislation

Contractors must brace themselves for EU anti-counterfeiting legislation six months before it comes into effect, Alliance Healthcare’s managing director has warned.

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.

Two-year timeframe

“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.

Hub-and-spoke concerns

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”.

Find out what Mr Main's two "biggest concerns" are with the hub-and-spoke model here.

6 Comments
Question: 
How are you preparing for the EU scanning law?

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

And what about Brexit? Not enough info on this I'm afraid...

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

If this will be as well implemented as EPS then we have nothing to worry about - I thought it was going to be a paperless system? Never had as many white slips of paper floating around... and they need to go back to the pricing bureau for scanning now! Why didn't they rethink this whole system from the ground up, rather than trying to slavishly emulate a paper-based system. Anyway, I digress...

Mr CAUSTIC, Community pharmacist

Does this mean we will introduce unit pack dispensing at the same time ? Will the system cope with part of a pack being dispensed and allow the rest to be dispensed against another prescription? I presume the scanner will be the same  as the current barcode scanner or will a different one be required. If the internet connection goes down how will we check the pack validity at the time of dispensing ? Will we have brexit in time  to save us ?a very good idea in principle  but the problems with implementing will be a nightmare !

Daniel Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

The big question is...can Alliance do something correctly?

Judging by their day-to-day activities I'd be very surprised.

Please expect tote boxes with missing goods, good with missing invoices, somebody else's goods, somebody else's invoices, or no order at all when their equipment fails yet again.

Bal Singh, Locum pharmacist

The real question is how seriously are all EU pharmacies going to take this rule? Are foreign countries going to take it under advisement like the smoking ban or will it be universally enforced?

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

What sanctions will there be if we dont implement the FMD. Surely if we are leaving the EU then no action could be taken against us if we don't do it? Legal experts - any answers?

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