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Rowlands still addressing 'considerable staff issues' around FMD

Just 17 Rowlands pharmacies will be live with the FMD on February 9
Just 17 Rowlands pharmacies will be live with the FMD on February 9

There are “considerable logistical and staff issues” to address before all Rowlands pharmacies start decommissioning under the EU’s medicines scanning law, the multiple has said.

Rowlands is “making [its] best endeavours to be fully compliant” with the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) – which will require all pharmacies to scan barcodes on medicines packaging at the point of dispensing – by the February 9 deadline, it told C+D last week (January 23).

Rowlands' more than 500 pharmacies are registered with SecurMed – the non-profit organisation that will manage the UK’s medicines verification systems – and will have the required scanning equipment. But not all branches will “go live” with the FMD on this date, it said.

Rowlands has developed an “FMD-compliant solution” with its patient medication record provider EMIS, “which we will deploy across our network over the coming months”, the multiple said.

“Given the scale and complexity of what is required – not just the IT aspects, but also staff engagement and training – [we are] taking a phased approach,” Rowlands said.

As of February 9, 17 Rowlands branches will be piloting the scanning and decommissioning process, the multiple told C+D.

“We will then learn the lessons arising before implementing through our network,” it added.

“We need to get this right first time, without any disruption to the supply of medicines to patients.”

The multiple’s rollout plans are in line with General Pharmaceutical Council and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency expectations, “given the scale and complexity involved”, Rowlands claimed.

Well “taking the legislation seriously”

Well’s change operations manager Matthew Gabbitas told C+D it is “working towards all our stores being FMD compliant” and hopes to use the same system across all its 780 pharmacies.

“We are taking the change in legislation seriously and we’re working hard to test, learn and review the processes to ensure we get it right,” he added.

Both Boots and Lloydspharmacy have also told C+D they will not meet the February 9 deadline across all their branches.

What challenges have you faced in preparing for the FMD deadline?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I too like to drag my feet about something I don't want to do as well in the hope it will go away. What's the penalty for not complying?

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

Compliance is a legal thing so by not complying technically speaking it's breaking the law, so you can possibly get prosecuted and pharmacy shut down. But as you know GPhC may 'spare' these large multiples as usual. I have seen so many awful Boots branches passing the inspection so what do I expect? Independents may not be so lucky then when they are determined to shutting down some pharmacies for not complying while sparing these big chains...

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