BAPW Appeal for Objective Monitoring of Branded Medicine Supplies

The BAPW (British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers) has appealed for pharmacies and manufacturers to support third-party monitoring and reporting of branded drug supplies.

Critical deliberation should be given to the establishment of a robust, objective monitoring and survey service of medicines to pharmacies and dispensing doctors, and this would need to have the support of everyone working in and reliant on the supply chain, the British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers, a trade association for full-line wholesalers within the medicines supply chain, has told the All-Party Pharmacy Group, as part of the inquiry into medicine shortages.

“Only this type of objective monitoring and reporting will give confidence back to what is a world-class system of distribution, as well as being a positive contribution to patient safety,” the Association has told MPs, in its submission to the investigation.

The submission also notes that while the numerous stakeholders in the supply chain are currently working together more closely, inefficiencies still persist which could be rebalanced by regulatory enforcement and, if necessary, regulatory adjustment.

“The medicines supply in the UK has proven so resilient that, by and large, patients have been hidden from this particular problem. However, it is the long-term resilience that this inquiry should address. The patient voice is best represented in this NHS supply chain by the Department of Health,” commented BAPW’s executive director, Martin Sawer.

“The key issue here is that action should be undertaken to avoid patients being harmed. In our business, it is not usually acceptable to argue that action will only be taken if there is evidence of patient harm – our whole business ethos is predicated on preventing that harm from occurring in the first place,” he added.

Additional concerns highlighted in the submission include the fact that the ability to map demand and react promptly to patient needs has become increasingly difficult, as the profile of branded medicines in short supply varies over time from high-volume products to low-volume, high-priced medicines.

Furthermore, it tells MPs that the supervision of quotas to try to distribute medicines fairly to pharmacies takes many hours of wholesalers’ time and is a further inefficiency cost borne by the supply chain. For example, the report says that BAPW members have been forced to make investments not only in IT systems to manage medicine allocations but also in added staff for these new processes and the increased demand for pharmacy customer services, and are also having to bear the increased costs of “emergency” ordering processes.

The British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers also notes that they have consistently proposed initiatives to help deal with scarcities of branded medicines. For example they have, together with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), recommended the creation of buffer stocks in wholesale, keeping emergency supplies closer to the patient in the event that pharmacies need them.

It has also advised a number of “obligations to supply,” including, most recently, a Patient Service Obligation.


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