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Contractor stuck with Fluad ordered for 2019 despite flu jab changes

Seqirus: It is usual practice to begin taking Fluad orders for the following season in September
Seqirus: It is usual practice to begin taking Fluad orders for the following season in September

A contractor has been unable to change her Fluad order for 2019 despite an announcement the following day that alternative flu vaccines may be available next year.

Indira Panchal, owner of Meiklejohn Pharmacy in Bedford, told C+D that last week (November 20) she ordered around £1,500-worth of Fluad – currently the only vaccine recommended for over-65s – for the 2019-20 flu season, following repeated prompting from manufacturer Seqirus.

But the following day Ms Panchal saw NHS England’s announcement that it was considering recommending two additional vaccines for use next flu season, and immediately told the manufacturer that she “didn’t want to go through” with her original order.

Seqirus responded that the terms and conditions she had signed prevented her from cancelling an order, according to Ms Panchal.

“I said: ‘You haven’t even made [the vaccines] yet, you have just taken pre-orders of the goods,” she told C+D.

Ms Panchal said she had received “two or three” phone calls from Seqirus on the day she ordered the vaccines, warning her that she “wouldn’t get [her] order in” if she delayed.

“I told them within 24 hours of placing the order that I didn’t want to go through with it,” she added.

“I said to them: ‘I’m only a small independent, I haven’t got money to throw away. I placed an order thinking you are the only ones who are [producing a vaccine for over-65s]’.”

Ms Panchal said she would rather order batches of cell-grown quadrivalent vaccine (QIVc) – which NHS England is considering recommending for vaccinating patients both over and under 65 next flu season – assuming it is licensed as expected in December.

Seqirus responds

Seqirus told C+D it is “usual practice” to begin taking Fluad orders for next season in September, as it aims to “finalise the majority of orders by the end of December, with some sales activity carrying over into early next year”.

“Early ordering means our Liverpool manufacturing site will be well prepared to supply all orders of Fluad in the usual delivery window of September and early October next year, regardless of demand,” Seqirus said.

Producing and supplying a seasonal flu vaccine takes about nine months, said Seqirus. It pointed to NHS England’s advice last week that pharmacies should not “unnecessarily delay” ordering currently licensed vaccines.

Have you placed a vaccine order for next season yet?

Richard MacLeavy, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

I like how Seqirus finalise their orders in December yet when they don't deliver they blame "unexpected demand"

Charles Whitfield Bott, Pharmacist Director

It was made very clear to me at the time of ordering that the order could only be cancelled if fluad was NOT on the list for next year.

Can not understand why you would want to cancel now when there is no alternative yet.

C A, Community pharmacist

If only there was some kind of law covering distance selling with a cooling off period... (since Seqirus phone her several times pressurising her into the sale).

H W, Community pharmacist

Had we had any communication about next year's service before she'd placed the order? I understand you'd want to get the order sorted ASAP after the issues this year but this seems like a shot in the dark with no comms from NHSE or PHE (not that I recall seeing anyway - happy to be proven wrong)

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

We know they run close to the line as regards production - look at the debacle there has been this year!

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

This is sharp practise by the big boys bulling the small pharmacist. They would never treat Boots etc like that.

I suggest we do not buy their product next year

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

This raises anumber of questions. Firstly, when can an order be cancelled. Most suppliers with a lead time of nine months would be OK about cancelling an order within 24 hours, mainly because I severely doubt if they've even begun manufacture - it is different if it were a "special". Secondly, the announcement of more than one suitable vaccine for next year shows that NHSE think Seqirus have not handled it very well this year. If you assume for a moment that Fluad it manufactured to meet the orders placed, £1500 is only about 150 injections - and if that is considered "over-production" by Seqirus, in the grand scheme of things, that makes me think they run pretty close to the line for supply. Alternatively, the alternative vaccines may not actually get their licences, so it could turn out that Ms Panchal will have supplies and the rest of uswill have egg on our face. Whichever it turns out to be, it highlights yet another shambles in the flu service

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