Smartphones or tablet devices could be used by pharmacists instead of scanners to implement the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), manufacturers have claimed.
At least two companies have developed the technology, which could potentially save pharmacies hundreds of pounds and mean they could avoid the uncertainty around the future of the FMD, which will be implemented just six weeks before the UK is due to leave the EU at the end of March 2019.
No official estimate of the cost of implementing the FMD for community pharmacies has yet been made, but an EU Commission assessment from 2015 put the figure at around €530 a year.
TraceLink, a healthcare tech company, with offices in the UK, the United States and India, will in October 2018 launch an app compatible with smartphones and tablets, which will use the device’s in-built camera or Bluetooth to perform the scanning function. The app links to the National Medicines Verification System (NMVS) and the Europe-wide version, the EU Hub.
Glenn Kiladis, general manager of Global Consumer Solutions at TraceLink, said: “We recognised that the new directive adds workload complexity and additional costs to pharmacies.
“Levering the network we’ve built, we’re layering in an app to enable tens of thousands of community pharmacies and dispensing doctors to use a camera scanner to upload the information to where it needs to go: to the NMVS [and] to the EU Hub.”
NMVS Connect will also offer a scanner-free FMD solution. Developed by German company TCK GmbH, the cloud-based technology will be available for use on mobile devices, PCs and laptops, as well as 2D barcode scanners.
Ludger BrÃ¼ll, European key account and partner manager for TCK GmbH, said: “As a web-based application NMVS Connect is not really an app. You need access to the internet to be connected to our application. We do not need any installation and hence no charge for installation or downloading applies.”
In addition to its web-based application, TCK GmbH will launch a mobile app for Android and iOS smartphones at the end of September 2018.
A spokesperson for the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), the trade association for independent community pharmacy in the UK, said the hardware that scans the 2D barcode is just one element of FMD compliance. “Contractors must also consider whether the rest of the FMD solution that links the device to the UK database is suitable,” they said.
“We understand it’s hard to make a judgement before the database goes live but the NPA’s advice remains the same: contractors must be FMD compliant by February 9 2019 irrespective of Brexit, but they should avoid signing long-term contracts.
“It’s unclear whether the UK will be under FMD post-Brexit but if not, something very similar is likely be brought in. The NPA is evaluating a number of suppliers and will provide members with support on how to choose as soon as possible.”