Pharmacists and healthcare workers have been advised not to send medicines directly to Ukraine by the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP).
The advice outlined the difficulties involved in transporting medicines to Ukraine and other countries, particularly now that the UK is no longer part of the EU, and encouraged GHP members and healthcare staff to make financial donations instead.
According to the GHP statement, published in March 2022, transporting medicines requires “a range of licenses, permits and authorisations”, which take time to acquire and are expensive.
“Products procured by NHS organisations have been bought with taxpayers’ money and are intended for the patients of the NHS,” the advice added.
The GHP also advised members who wanted to help to either establish contact with pharmacy colleagues in Ukraine to determine their requirements and identify recommended supplier networks, or to work with international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), such as Medecins Sans Frontieres, and the UK-based charity International Health Partners.
Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English Pharmacy Board, echoed the advice. “I think the best way that we can support is really via donating abroad through the Disasters Emergency Committee,” she said.
“I think the other risk as well is, sometimes we end up sending things over which aren’t of any use.”
“The people who know what’s best for the patients in that area are the pharmacists on the ground. They may not necessarily be operating in the same algorithms that we are for treatment. And they also may be having to make changes based on what’s available there. So I think we just need to support them to do their job, rather than tell them how to do their job.”
In a separate statement, the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU) — which represents national associations and professional bodies of community pharmacy across Europe — has called for guaranteed access to medicines for those affected by the war in Ukraine and continued support from community pharmacists across Europe to aid in this action.
The PGEU condemned Russia’s “unprecedented military aggression” and highlighted a plea from the All-Ukrainian Pharmaceutical Chamber, which described a current, acute shortage of medicines in Ukraine, with many pharmacies either being destroyed or being forced to close down as a result of the war.
Since 8 March 2022, the RPS has been providing free access to MedicinesComplete and The Pharmaceutical Journal for all healthcare professionals in Ukraine.
Claire Anderson, president of the RPS, said: “The RPS is aware that donations of medicines are on their way from charities, non-government organisations and the NHS to help people gain access to treatments.
“Healthcare professionals using these medicines will need access to reliable information on the administration and use of those medicines, especially as brand names and information are likely to be different.”