Numark's Mandeep Mudhar comments on the resilience of community pharmacy.

If we’ve learned anything over the past few months, it is that pharmacy needs to work much, much harder to be heard – and considered – in an extremely noisy, politically charged environment.

Just when the sector thought that the judicial decision not to reverse the funding cuts was the height of its misfortune, a number of pharmacy representatives and prominent industry gures lost their clout in Government.

 

Oliver Colvile, Conservative MP and vice-chair of the All-Party Pharmacy Group, lost his seat
in Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, and Jason McCartney, who was the only Conservative MP to vote against the funding cuts in pharmacy last year (when 299 of his party peers did the opposite), lost his seat in Colne Valley. Signifcantly, we also witnessed the exit of pharmacy minister David Mowat MP, opening the doors to the appointment of a new minister.

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How can you make sure that people think to visit pharmacy before setting off on holiday?

I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to my summer holiday. For most of us, it is one of the highlights of the year. Of course, we should all take the necessary precautions to make sure we don’t encounter any holiday health hazards, and so a pre-holiday trip to the pharmacy should be a key part of people’s travel preparations.

It is hoped that most people know that pharmacy staff are well placed to recommend the appropriate medicines and travel products that can be used to treat conditions such as sunburn, headaches, diarrhoea and insect bites, and also that community pharmacists can offer advice on any vaccinations or additional medications that people may need.

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We may see several POM to P switches in coming months – this is good news, says PAGB

It is hard to believe that we’re already in June and halfway through 2017. This year has been eventful for various reasons, but a real positive for me is the increase in reclassification applications. After years of leading the way in reclassifying medicines, the number of successful switches in the UK has dipped over the past ten years, so I’m excited to see these new applications under consideration.

The reclassification of medicines from prescription only (POM) to pharmacy (P) or general sales list (GSL), where safe and appropriate to do so, can only be a positive thing. Over-the-counter availability offers people faster and easier access to effective medicines, reduces pressure and costs on GPs and the NHS and encourages more people to self care. PAGB supports companies that bring forward potential switches where there is a clear benefit and case for promoting self care.

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What’s been happening under cover with prescribing is now out in the open, says Noel Wicks

It seems that NHS England is taking a leaf out of the book of certain CCGs with its recent announcement to review a selection of “low value” medicines that it believes may have limited clinical value. The 10 items include tadalafil, travel vaccines, lidocaine plasters, fentanyl and doxazosin. In total, this could yield about £130 million in savings, although I imagine this assumes that no alternatives are prescribed.


This seems a far cry from the £400 million that Simon Stevens suggested could be saved by this review. So where is the rest coming from? Alongside this initial list of specified medicines NHS England also intends review other areas such as gluten-free foods and minor ailments including hayfever, pain and indigestion.

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Mike Smith puts the world to rights…

Community pharmacy continues to find itself in a state of limbo until the outcome of the judicial reviews is known. I fear that, whatever the outcome, any action may now also be lost in the brouhaha leading up to the snap election in June.


On the positive side, I think that the only time we may find a friend is in the run up to a general election. Your local MP will be more sympathetic to your cause in the next six weeks than at any other time – and we should make our voices heard. I hope our pharmacy leaders also have a plan in place to lobby at the highest level. If not, they are letting us down again.

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