The chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Lindsey Gilpin, has called for a change to the European Union laws that permit parallel exporting of products – ie the purchase of drugs from one cheaper country into another more expensive one to make a profit because of the price differences. Ms Gilpin would like to see an exemption to the EU law when patients’ lives are threatened. The weak pound has led to legitimate opportunism from some to make a profit on the drugs in the UK’s supply chain, but this has meant that pharmacies – and more importantly patients – do not always receive the drugs when they need. The seriousness of this issue was highlighted in the Parliamentary All Party Pharmacy Group’s report following its enquiry.
Ms Gilpin said that medicine is there to save lives and should not be treated just like any other product that can be bought and sold for a profit. She called for a change in the law to place public health protection above profit. She also bemoaned the fact that pharmacies are spending too much time trying to source drugs because of the problem. She said she should be spending that time helping patients instead.
Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP, in association with the Watford Chamber of Commerce, Sigma Pharmaceuticals and the Independent Pharmacy Federation, are holding a seminar on the medicine shortage crisis on 25 June with Kevin Barron, the APPG’s chair, speaking.