Pharmacists should continue to follow Lyrica guidance, says PSNC

The on-going battle by Pfizer (logo pictured) to protect its patent of Lyrica (pregabalin) as GPs voted for “urgent” legislation to end patent protection for specific indications for branded medicines.

Pharmacists should continue to follow NHS England guidance and refer generic prescriptions for pregabalin back to the prescriber if they know it has been written for the treatment of neuropathic pain, according to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

The advice from the national negotiators comes 12 days after Pfizer lost its High Court action to protect the second medical use patent of Lyrica, its branded version of pregabalin.

“The judgment, which may be subject to appeal, has not affected the situation for pharmacists and GPs – NHS England requires pharmacists to refer generic prescriptions back to the prescriber, if they are aware it is for neuropathic pain, and it requires prescribers to prescribe the brand for neuropathic pain,” the PSNC said on its website on 22 September 2015. “Pharmacists can dispense prescriptions written for pregabalin, unless they have reason to believe that the prescription is for the treatment of neuropathic pain.”

The PSNC says it will continue to push the Department of Health and NHS England for “clear and unequivocal guidance” as and when the Lyrica situation changes.

The latest advice from the PSNC appears to contradict the statement it made immediately after the High Court decision. It said then that pharmacists could “freely dispense generic pregabalin where the prescription is written generically”.

Pfizer has already announced that it plans to appeal against the High Court ruling.

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, October 2015, Vol 295, No 7882;295(7882):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20069414