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Wholesalers and pharmacists unite to improve medicines supply

Sort Out Stocks The BAPW and Pharmacy Voice are to work together on improving the supply of medicines and keeping pharmacists informed of any shortages

Wholesaler and pharmacist representatives are working together to create guidance to improve the supply of medicines.

The British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (BAPW) and Pharmacy Voice held a joint board meeting last month to discuss creating a system to make it easier for pharmacists to report medicine shortages to wholesalers and manufacturers, BAPW chief executive Martin Sawer told C+D this week (December 10).

The BAPW also wanted to work with Pharmacy Voice to create best practice guidance for its members on how to deliver medicines to a high standard and keep pharmacists informed of any shortages, he said.

"When a pharmacist can't get a product, it would be great if wholesalers told them why and how long it might be before they can get it," Mr Sawer said.

It would be great if wholesalers could tell pharmacists why a product is out of stock and when they can get get it, says BAPW chief executive Martin Sawer

More on stock shortages

C+D calls for urgent action to fix problems in supply chain

C+D report: Medicines shortages 2013

Europe-wide data sharing needed to prevent shortages worsening


Both groups wanted to dispel the myths that the current medicine supply system was expensive for the NHS or that a wide range of medicines were in short supply when only a small number were affected, Mr Sawer added.

Mr Sawer said the UK's supply chain was "the envy of many other countries" and the BAPW planned to create working groups with pharmacists to understand their concerns with the current system. It also wanted to work with manufacturers to gain a better understanding of how the supply chain worked in practice, he said.

Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott said he was "delighted" to be working on the initiatives with the BAPW.

"Pharmacists and distributors have a common cause as partners in the medicines supply chain, working together to ensure patients get the medicines they need safely and efficiently," he said.

In October, the BAPW revamped its ‘gold standard' of medicines distribution guidance, to reflect new EU regulations targeted at weaknesses in the supply chain.The same month, the group told C+D it had revived a communications network with pharmacists used during last year's Olympics to ensure the London flu vaccine service did not face further supply problems.

Read C+D's report on medicines shortages here.

Do you feel pharmacy is now seeing real progress in addressing problems in the supply chain?

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Paul Ponsford, Community pharmacist

I have been working in Perth Australia (The most isolated city in the world!) for the past 15 years and 14years in the UK previous to living in Australia. Fortunately, we experience very little in the way of medication shortages. The C and D article lists a full page of current out of stock medications and if I am correct, the major blame rests on the shoulders of the manufacture. Looking at this list a pulled one mediation at random. This was Micardis. It seems to me illogical to spends hours on the phone trying secure supply for a customer who has completely run out out of his medication. Rather, I would contact the prescribing doctor and convey the message that the manufacturer of Micardis has been negligent in it's obligation to supply suffiicient stock to consumers and in my opinion switching the patient to an alternative (e.g. irbesartan, candesartan,etc) would be a clinically viable option. The end result of this action is that the manufacturer of micardis will see falling sales volume. Only then will they 'see the light' and get their act together. I would encourage every pharmacist to then send an email to the manufacturer, outlining this action. Market forces would take control of the situation. Obviously, this scenario would not apply to medications where a suitable alternative was not in existence.

Susan M Shepherd, Community pharmacist

It may be a small number of the total product list held by a full line wholesaler, but it is often a wide range of the products routinely ordered by a community pharmacy.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

define "small number" and "wide range" and what value do you put on each if you are the patient who cant get them.

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