Pharmacists should be allowed to exchange stocks of medicines to mitigate local medicines shortages after Brexit, pharmacy leaders have said.
In an update on Brexit contingency planning, Community Pharmacy Scotland called for the Department of Health and Social Care to “relax the restrictions on pharmacy-to-pharmacy wholesale dealing without [a] wholesaler dealers licence” to help manage drugs shortages.
The statement added that relaxing the rules “would allow pharmacies to trade stock between them at a local level, helping to allow medicines to reach those patients who most need them without regulatory barriers”.
In a letter sent to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee on 7 December 2018, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) called for the same intervention, adding that processes must be in place after Brexit “to help community pharmacies and other healthcare providers to work together to manage any shortages that do occur”.
This follows an urgent government consultation launched on 7 December 2018, which proposed giving pharmacists the ability to switch a patient’s medication to a suitable alternative when the prescribed drug is in short supply, without consulting the patient’s GP.
The letter to the select committee, signed by Simon Dukes, chief executive of the PSNC, also expressed concern over the financial impact of medicines shortages on pharmacies more generally.
It said: “The PSNC is concerned about the impact that shortages on a significant scale could have on pharmacies’ cashflow and workload at a time when many pharmacies are already under significant pressure following funding cuts to the sector.”
To mitigate the financial risk, the PSNC suggests working with the government to ensure “community pharmacies have quicker and clearer reimbursement and stock availability information”, as well as reimbursement “of any additional costs incurred to help them to cover their costs and continue to offer the full range of patient services”.