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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In the future, technology should intelligently support the changing role of the community pharmacist to bring benefit to patients, says pharmacist and P3’s columnist Noel Wicks

One thing will define the world of community pharmacy in 2017: technology. The use of technology certainly isn’t something new to pharmacy, of course, but it seems to me that the explosion of apps, devices, dispensing robots and e-services now being offered has grown exponentially in the last 12 months.

Where we once had too little choice of technology in community pharmacy, we are now overwhelmed by a variety of different solutions – all of which look capable of solving something or other we couldn’t do before. I’m thinking of the latest in repeat ordering, private prescriptions, medicine reminders and stock ordering.

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The potential for sales during the spring and summer allergy season is not to be sniffed at, says PAGB

As the poet Pablo Neruda said “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming”, yet every year so many hayfever sufferers act surprised when they find themselves suddenly battling blocked noses and watery eyes due to the pollen count rising. Although I have never suffered myself, I’ve already heard mumbles from some of my colleagues that the hayfever season has begun.

Most people only associate hayfever with grass pollen in the summer months, which affects 95 per cent of sufferers, and don’t necessarily know about allergies to other types of pollen, including trees and weeds, so it helps to help educate customers on what types of pollen they could be allergic to. Birch pollen affects around 25 per cent of hayfever sufferers and is usually the first type of pollen to appear in early to mid-April.

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