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Wholesalers revive Olympics model to ensure flu vaccine supply

Practice The BAPW hopes its system of communicating directly with LPC consortium Pharmacy London – which was used during the 2012 Games – will keep pharmacists updated about any vaccine shortages

Wholesalers have revived a communications network with pharmacists used during last year's Olympics to ensure the London flu vaccine service does not face further supply problems.

The British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (BAPW) hopes its system of communicating directly with LPC consortium Pharmacy London will keep pharmacists updated about any vaccine shortages, after contractors reported initial delays with supplies from some manufacturers.

The BAPW said it was keeping in regular contact with Pharmacy London via emails and conference calls, so that both groups were aware of any factors that could affect the smooth supply of the vaccine.

A similar model was set up between the BAPW and the Department of Health to monitor the supply of Tamiflu three years ago. It was later used to ensure pharmacies across London continued to receive their medicines during the Olympics, Mr Sawer said.

BAPW chief executive Martin Sawer says the success of the communications system during the Olympics meant it had "a lot of credibility"

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"We can tell pharmacists when our stock is low. They can tell us when the demand is high and we can move stock around the country," BAPW chief executive Martin Sawer told C+D. "It's about early warning [and] keeping people informed."

The success of the system during the Olympics meant it had "a lot of credibility" with Pharmacy London, he said.

The BAPW was considering whether to offer to run a similar system with Community Pharmacy Greater Manchester, which won a contract to deliver a flu vaccination service this winter, he added.

Pharmacy London treasurer Michael Levitan said the BAPW had been "working hard behind the scenes" to make sure the vaccine reached pharmacies and he would recommend a similar communications model to other pharmacy bodies.

"It's a good model for the future because it's in everybody's interest to work collaboratively to ensure delivery to the patient is as smooth as possible," he told C+D.

There had been a few "fits and starts" with some of the early deliveries of the vaccine in London, he added, but the service was "settling down" and there were no current problems.

Earlier this month, C+D reported that medicine supply problems and out-of-date email lists had prevented some London pharmacies from delivering the flu service.

Have you experienced flu vaccine supply problems?

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