New guidance to tackle medicine supply shortages in the UK published today by the Department of Health is welcomed by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) as a step in the right direction.
But the ABPI warned there is still much to be done to ensure UK patients don’t lose out because of the activities of a minority in the supply chain trading medicines for profit, exploiting the low cost of UK drugs and fluctuating exchange rates.
The guidance – “Best Practice for Ensuring the Efficient Supply and Distribution of Medicines to Patients” – is the result of months of work with stakeholders throughout the supply chain. It sets out in writing procedures to help ensure UK patients can obtain their medication.
Director General for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Richard Barker said:
“We welcome the publication of this guidance, and hope all parties will work to ensure it is used effectively. But the problems patients, the NHS and industry have encountered over the past 18 months will need stronger action from Government if we are going to tackle the root causes of this problem. “The ABPI has consistently called for the number of wholesaler dealers licences in the UK to be reduced to enable better regulation by the MHRA and wants to see stricter obligations on all in the supply chain to ensure UK patients are always the priority.”
There are currently 1800 Wholesale Dealer Licences granted in the UK, the second highest in Europe, behind Germany. Latest ABPI data shows that France has 39, Belgium 90 and Denmark 6. The average for most other countries is around 250-300.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) consulted on proposals to tighten regulation on wholesaler dealers licences last year. The ABPI contributed to the consultation, which concluded in March. The ABPI agrees with the MHRA statement in the consultation Medicines are not ordinary items of commerce, and should only be traded by properly qualified and professional organisations.
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