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COVID-19: Wholesalers urge pharmacies to return tote boxes quickly

Martin Sawer: Tote boxes are "essential" to supplying medicines safely
Martin Sawer: Tote boxes are "essential" to supplying medicines safely

Wholesaler body the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) has issued a “plea to pharmacies” to return tote boxes quickly amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Wholesalers are experiencing “severe shortages” of pharmacy delivery tote boxes, which are an “integral part” of their picking processes, HDA chief executive Martin Sawer said yesterday (March 19).

Mr Sawer asked pharmacies to “help the whole medicines supply chain by returning any totes to the delivery driver” when they make the delivery.

The shortage of tote boxes is “particularly affecting the work being done by the automated sections of [wholesalers’] warehouses as part of the twice-daily picking cycle”, he added.

“Tote boxes also help us to protect and track medicines and are essential to safe medicines supply in the UK,” Mr Sawer explained.

Due to COVID-19, workers across UK pharmacy are under great pressure right now. If you would like to find out how you can help, take a look at current vacancies in and around your location. All levels of pharmacy professionals are needed.

How is your pharmacy dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak?

RS Pharmacist, Primary care pharmacist

The world is in the grip of the biggest pandemic since the Spanish Flu and the wholesalers want their totes back! How many of you have got a couple at home in the garage? Come on… let’s be having you!

Angry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

The government has allowed certain multiples to own a monopoly of medication wholesale. Hiking up prices and causing false medication shortages only to come back into stock at a much higher price. These wholesalers which are owned by the large multiples are manipulating the drug tariff price and costing the NHS BILLIONS every year!

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

BREAKING NEWS -- AAH are now planning to deliver only ONCE A DAY from 23-03-20 until further notice. Which means, if a delivery is missed then we have to wait for a whole 24 hours meaning 48 hours in total for an item to arrive in the Pharmacy. So much for a great company.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

COVID-19: Pharmacies urge wholesalers to actually take their totes, we don't want them lying around the store either.

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

Couldnt care less about this until the wholesalers decide to stop ramping up prices, causing artificial stock outages etc

Tired Manager, Community pharmacist

Haha this made me giggle.. have a word with the "no space on the van for empties" gang aka your delivery drivers 

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

I would sum up, which is already mentioned by others here.

1. Please make sure your drivers collect the totes on each delivery, not leaving them for the next driver, specially in the case of AGENCY drivers who say they are not required to collect the totes.

2. Make your automation a bit sensible. Try to add more products in one tote rather than single tote for each item ordered separately. Unfortunately, in these tough times, we have to order each item as and when we have a script and not wait for the order pad to fill-up and then order in bulk. With your erratic deliveries, it is difficult for us to assume whether an item will be delivered within the promised next delivery schedule. You see we need to tell the desperate Patients when the item will arrive at the Pharmacy for them to collect.

3. Use alternate items like Cardboard boxes to supply us with the products. We don't mind how the products are packed, as long as they don't arrive at the Pharmacy all damaged for us to simply return them and re-order, meaning some more wait for the patients.

4. Please do not stockpile medicines at this health crisis time, to jack up the prices and making them available only through your affiliated Pharmacy chains.

I can add many more but, even if you follow these for the time being, we should all be fine.

Watto 59, Community pharmacist

Wholesalers could actually make sure their drivers bothered to take them away.

Dave Downham, Manager

Maybe if wholesalers had not signed up to so many solus arrangements so we need multiple accounts....?

Not sending totes with just one item in would also help. Had 8 AAH totes today with just 11 items in total

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I've had 10 items delivered in 12 totes before, work that one out.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

"Pharmacists urge wholesalers to supply what is ordered and stop playing games"

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