The Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) – created to prevent counterfeit medicines from entering the supply chain – will require every pharmacy in the UK to scan barcodes and check tamper-proof devices from February 9, 2019.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has not published specific calculations of the cost of the legislation to community pharmacies, but its impact assessment estimates that “healthcare institutions” face paying up to £4,000 every five years to buy scanners to comply with the directive.
Reena Barai, a contractor and National Pharmacy Association (NPA) board member, said pharmacy owners continue to be concerned about the associated costs of complying with the FMD.
“Every contractor I have met over the last couple of days has said that is the one thing they want to find out about at the Pharmacy Show,” she said at the conference in Birmingham yesterday (October 7).
“Are we going to be funded for it?” Ms Barai asked Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) CEO Simon Dukes.
In response, Mr Dukes said: “I don't know yet, is the answer. I have flagged this significantly with the government.”
“[The government] knows we want to talk about it. They have asked and I've agreed to discuss it in the 2019-20 contract negotiations,” he added.
“Those negotiations are yet to start. I am hopeful that they will do so in the next month, and [the FMD] is on the agenda.”
“No pot of money for FMD”
Speaking in a separate session on the FMD, Claymore Richardson, senior policy manager for pharmacy at the Department of Health and Social Care (DH), told delegates: “There is no big pot of money for implementing FMD.”
The DH has been working with NHS Digital and others on “the options for people working in the community”, Mr Richardson added.
In the same session, Raj Patel, chair of the UK FMD working group for community pharmacy, insisted: “There needs to be a pot for FMD.”
Contract negotiations “need to gather pace” if pharmacies are to afford FMD hardware and software installation by the February 2019 deadline, he added.
Leon Finnerty, NHS Digital FMD programme manager, said that rather than see it as a “burden”, pharmacists should consider the positive impact medicines scanning could have on the sector – including greater control over their stock and drug shortages.
“Take the fact that you've got [to comply with the] FMD as a given,” he told delegates, before suggesting they ask themselves: “How can I turn this into a benefit for me?”
Last month, PSNC confirmed that the first meetings with government officials to negotiate England’s pharmacy funding for 2018-19 have started, but warned that the sector “owes the government a lot of money”.