The regulations surrounding the supply of stock medication have become increasingly stringent in recent years, with increased licensing and more in-depth inspections. This is creating a range of issues for hospices as they seek a consistent and reliable supplier.
Perhaps the biggest impact has been created by the MHRA’s Wholesale Dealer’s Licence. Holding this licence is a legal requirement for any pharmacy provider wishing to supply stock medication. This includes supplying to any hospice or independent hospital.
Ashtons holds an MHRA Wholesale Dealer’s Licence, so we understand how onerous and expensive the licence is to obtain and maintain. The effort and expense needed to meet the requirements of the licence have led many community pharmacies and NHS Trusts to decide against holding it.
As a result, we are aware that many hospices are having to obtain medication from different sources, creating a hybrid system that is often overly expensive, complex and time-consuming for nursing staff.
Stock availability is also an issue for many pharmacies. The average community pharmacy often does not hold sufficient stock of medication as they are not designed to supply healthcare facilities requiring large quantities of medication. Often it is a simple matter of lack of space.
However, due to the nature of palliative care treatment, often a wide range of specialist drugs are used. Large medication wholesalers limit the supply of many of these drugs as ‘hospital only’ products. This creates an anomaly in the supply chain – the large wholesaler will not supply to the hospice as their orders are too small, but equally they will not supply ‘hospital only’ products to a community pharmacy.
In either of these situations where there is a lack of availability, often hospices will need to seek supply from the local NHS Trust using a named patient private prescription. This creates a lot of unnecessary expense for the hospice, as well as many issues related to the use of named patient supplies compared with stock medication. These include increased wastage, delayed delivery, increased storage requirements and more difficulty in managing changes to medication or doses.
We believe it is important to ensure our clients do not experience any of these issues. As well as the MHRA Wholesale Dealer’s Licence we also hold a Home Office licence that allows us to legally supply Controlled Drugs as stock. We have access to ‘hospital only’ products and always strive to hold sufficient stock to meet our clients’ requirements, leading to 99.4% stock availability. We meet each clients’ requirements for medication and medical supplies with a single daily delivery.