Most of the Government’s proposals to amend medicines legislation in the event of an influenza pandemic are supported by those who responded to its initial consultation on the subject (PJ, 1 December 2007, p617). Respondents supported the idea that emergency supply should be extended to 28 days and suggested that this should be implemented at the earliest opportunity, rather than waiting for a pandemic. In its response, the Government confirms its commitment to consider this and indicates that it will be part of a further consultation.
The suggestion that expired and unused medicines should be supplied to patients was opposed by a significant minority and those that did support it wanted there to be explicit conditions specified and guidance provided. Some respondents opposed suggested changes around Controlled Drugs but most supported the proposals, subject to conditions, clear guidance and protocols.
Most respondents did not agree that emergency legislation should be stopped immediately after the pandemic and suggested that a period of recovery, lasting two to six months, would be needed to allow for a return to normality in the production of medicines and the pharmacy supply chain; the Government accepted this suggestion.
The Government says that many of the possible changes will now be taken forward for further consideration in the required technical statutory consultations, led by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the Home Office. The summary of responses is available at www.dh.gov.uk and via PJ Online (www.pjonline.com/pjlinks).