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Medicine quotas are not preventing parallel exporting - the root cause of medicine shortages in the UK - but they do cause daily problems "for many pharmacies (who are not engaged in exporting)", the All Party Pharmacy Group has concluded after almost six months of inquiry.
The group, led by Labour MP (Rother Valley) Kevin Barron, has recommended that a task force reporting to the Department of Health should be established to ensure that within six months quota arrangements become simpler, less burdensome, more transparent, and more sensitive to local variations in demand.
To address the problem of export, the group has specifically called on the pharmacy regulator, the General Pharmaceutical Council, to ensure that pharmacists are reminded of their professional guidelines on prioritising UK patient need - as should other relevant regulators. Assurances have given by wholesalers and manufacturers and dispensing doctors that UK patients are being put first.
DDA chairman Richard West has said: "The DDA has been unable to identify parallel exporting by dispensing doctors; dispensing doctors put their patients first and ensure that they get UK drugs. This exporting is occurring in other parts of the supply chain."
The Department of Health and the MHRA have also been urged to take more definitive action to prevent shortages, including that:
Commenting on the report, in a joint statement, pharmacy representatives the PSNC, Pharmacy Voice and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said: "Those delivering medicines via the medicines supply chain must act within the parameters of law and relevant professional ethics."
The British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (BAPW) said it welcomed a further recommendation to increase the buffer stock held by wholesalers.