It’s time that pharmacy put its collective foot down over confusion caused by patents, says Noel Wicks

I once heard a quote that ran along the lines of ‘out of chaos comes control’ and that’s certainly how I would describe the unbearable situation pharmacists find themselves in at the moment over the generic launch of pregabalin. It seems that in the chaos generated by the patent court case, everyone is now looking to apply this control to the actions of the pharmacist. 

One recent addition to the pile of letters relating to this situation was from the manufacturer writing to us to explain that we ‘need to take steps to ensure the correct product is dispensed’. They suggest that steps might include contacting the prescriber or asking the patient in order to establish the indication. This is despite the fact that the judge in the patent case specifically said that NHS England and other respective NHS bodies would be expected to meet with the manufacturer to give out guidance as a matter of urgency.

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Easy to use health apps are starting to change health interactions for patients, says Noel Wicks

I remember the very first day I got into the “mobile” world. It was 1997 and I was in my second year at the University of Bradford.

At the time I was doing a six-month pre-reg placement while also being on the executive of the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association. With these heady responsibilities I felt needed to be contactable 24 hours a day and so with my first pre-reg pay packet I purchased a Motorola pager.

For anyone qualifying as a pharmacist after about 2005, a pager was a small device (worn on the belt if you were cool) that displayed a number message sent from a phone by someone else. This would usually be the phone number of the person who called you or occasionally your friends who had worked out how to spell a rude word using numbers.

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Mike Smith discusses the difficulties and disruption caused by the Christmas frenzy

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Mike Smith puts the world to rights...

Is it just me, or is the run-up to a general election just about the only time that we hear the really big hitters in politics (and by that I mean those at the level of health secretary and above) publicly acknowledge the roles of healthcare professionals other than GPs?

With only a few more months of electioneering to go, I am sure we can all look forward to many more warm words about the role community pharmacists can play. Perhaps, between now and 7 May, we should all start keeping count of how many times we hear the phrases ‘bigger role to play’ or ‘swing the pendulum of care away from hospital towards the community’ or ‘vital role in preventative care’ before the votes are cast and the pre-election pledges appear to immediately disappear into the ether.


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Scotland’s minor ailments service has a lot that’s good about it, says Noel Wicks

Some ideas are just so good that they keep coming around again and again. One such idea is that of an English national minor ailments/common ailments service through pharmacies. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, with costly A&Es bursting at the seams and long waits for doctors’ appointments, a service such as this is the only logical way forward.

When you think about it, we already have the infrastructure, the capability and the scope to create the capacity for such a service. I’m sure the amount needed to set up the service would be minimal compared to any other recent national initiatives you care to mention. I appreciate that the ongoing costs of providing this would not be inconsiderable, but, in my opinion, and in relation to the alternatives, it surely can’t represent anything other than value for money.

Hopefully, in the near future there will be a sudden outbreak of common sense from the government and by winter 2015 pharmacy really will be the ‘first port of call’ for common conditions.

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