Manufacturers have resisted attempts to reduce the burden of stock shortages on pharmacy teams by streamlining emergency orders, a C+D investigation has revealed.
The majority of members of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) opposed a PSNC suggestion for a standardised form for pharmacies to order urgent supplies from manufacturers, according to minutes of meetings by the government’s medicines supply chain forum last year.
The ABPI had argued that using a single form was “too open to abuse” and any changes to the arrangements would be “too costly”, according to minutes of three of the four meetings held by the forum in 2014, obtained by C+D via a Freedom of Information request.
Manufacturers considered that telephone was the “most efficient” way to manage emergency orders, according to the minutes of the group.
The ABPI told the forum it had concerns a standardised form could be mistaken for a legally binding contract. In addition, manufacturers who had invested in their own web-based ordering systems may not want to alter them, the ABPI said in the minutes.
But PSNC, which attended the meetings with representatives from pharmacy and wholesaler organisations, had argued in favour of a standardised form, the minutes showed. The proposed form – a set of “standard data” that could be sent by fax, phone or web portal – could “cut costs and reduce effort”, it had claimed.
Reducing pressure on pharmacy teams
PSNC head of dispensing and supply Komal George told C+D this week that the negotiator had developed a template form and would “continue to press the matter”. A standardised ordering form would help reduce pressure on pharmacy teams, who were wasting “valuable time” sourcing medicines, she stressed.
“We hope that all manufacturers adopt such a form and it would then be clear to pharmacy teams what the ordering process for medicines in short supply is,” she added.
ABPI distribution and supply chain director Rick Greville told C+D this week that it was important for companies to “unilaterally decide on their own distribution and contingency arrangements”. “The ABPI continues to support companies to manage supply shortage issues with pharmacies on a case-by-case basis,” he added.
The Department of Health told C+D that it had met separately with four manufacturers “towards the end of 2014” to discuss a standardised order form. “The companies were open to further discussions,” it said on Tuesday.