GSK has placed a temporary hold on the distribution of its pharmaceutical lines in order to facilitate its move towards distributing through three wholesalers, PSNC has advised pharmacists (Tuesday October 30). Pharmacy Magazine has received reports of pharmacists affected by the supply hold, with one concerned he may not have enough inhalers to cover the period of interruption.
The supply interruption began from 2pm on October 29 and runs to the morning of November 1, when normal supply via AAH, Alliance Healthcare and Phoenix is expected to resume. PSNC says “any orders transmitted during this time will not be placed, and pharmacies should place an order again from November 1”.
North East pharmacist and PSNC committee member Mark Burdon said that although GSK told him it had sent out communications ahead of the interruption, he only learned of it on the evening of October 29 when he saw that a significant number of GSK orders had been rejected and were coming up as out of stock.
He says he eventually saw a message communicating the supply issues when he logged onto the AAH portal – “which we never normally have to do because we order through the PMR”.
Mr Burdon told PM: “Because we didn’t have an opportunity to plan for this, we’re running out. Of course, where we can substitute for another product we will. However, some of the inhalers in question are newer ones such as Trelegy, Anoro and Relvar.”
Vaccines are another time-critical product affected by the supply interruption, he said.
Phoenix issued a statement this afternoon (October 31), which read: “We wrote to every Phoenix customer [and] emailed them regularly. Our sales teams have visited every customer to inform them of [the temporary shutdown]. In our original communication, we also advised our customers there will be a hold on supply of GSK products to facilitate the transition to three wholesalers, as did GSK in the communication it sent out to every pharmacy in the UK.
“The onus of letting pharmacy know of the two-day hold really sits with the two existing wholesalers [AAH and Alliance] until the new arrangements start tomorrow. We [will continue] to communicate the new arrangements through Phoenix of the GSK prescription portfolio.”
A GSK spokesperson said: “As part of moving over to a new distribution model, we need to complete a number of tasks including stock validation and changes to IT systems. We understand that any changes to our distribution model can cause uncertainty for customers, which is why we have been actively working with them to manage this process.
“At the start of October, and to help customers plan their stock for the two days when medicines and vaccines could not be ordered, we wrote to all purchasing accounts on our system. We also published information on our website and understand that wholesalers informed their own customers. From November 1, customers can order from their wholesaler with delivery later that day to a majority of locations.”
PSNC is advising pharmacists to contact GSK on 0800 221 441 if they are faced with a medically critical situation requiring stock.