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Chain buys pharmacy scanners and warns of 'significant cost' of EU law

pharmacy scanner
Weldricks will trial the new scanners and software in two of its 63 branches in September

The superintendent of a pharmacy chain that has already bought scanners ahead of EU legislation has warned the cost of compliance will be a "substantial" burden on the sector.

Under EU anti-counterfeiting legislation the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), every pharmacy in the UK will be required to scan barcodes on medicines and check their anti-tampering device at the point of dispensing from February 9, 2019.

Weldricks superintendent Richard Wells said the chain has already purchased “quality scanners” for its 63 pharmacies, in anticipation of “stock shortages due to a sudden, one-off demand from thousands of pharmacies” ahead of the February deadline.

Mr Wells said the cost of Weldrick's FMD preparations is commercially confidential, but was “significant and very unwelcome” given the “tidal wave of cost increases pharmacy has faced in recent years, and [the] reductions in remuneration”.

“If the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee does not negotiate a contribution towards the cost of purchasing hardware, licensing software, and the staff time needed for all the extra scanning, then this will be a new and substantial straw added to an already heavily burdened camel’s back,” he stressed.

Trials of pharmacy scanners

The chain has chosen the system supplier FMD IT to provide the required software, and “will begin a trial in two pharmacies – one low volume and one high volume dispensing – in September”, he told C+D on Wednesday (August 22).

“We plan to have the system rolled out across our whole estate and fully operational well before the legal deadline,” Mr Wells added.

In its impact assessment published last month, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency suggested that every pharmacy faces paying up to £4,000 every five years to buy the required scanners and software.

What is the Falsified Medicines Directive?

The directive introduces EU measures to prevent counterfeit medicines entering the supply chain. The measures include:

  • New, compulsory safety features – including a unique identifier that can be scanned at fixed points along the supply chain, and an anti-tampering device – on the outer packaging of medicines
  • A common, EU-wide logo to identify legal online pharmacies
  • Tougher rules on importing active pharmaceutical ingredients
  • Strengthened record-keeping requirements for wholesale distributors.

Source: European Commission

Are you prepared to install scanners in your pharmacy by the February deadline?

Dave Downham, Manager

I wish I was commercially confident...

Vijay Walia, Superintendent Pharmacist

In view of these crippling cuts in our NHS remuneration should we try and save our staff jobs or install these scanners! 

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