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Ensure that no counterfeit medicines enter the supply chain

I would like to comment on the news item in The Pharmaceutical Journal regarding falsified medicines (2014;293:100). The piece claims that the time taken to test whether a pack is counterfeit will be less than a second.

I question the technology. Communication over the internet is highly dependent on download speed, which is highly variable from location to location. In my rural pharmacy, download speed is appallingly slow. Electronic prescription service release 1 prescriptions take from 25 seconds to over a minute to download. I seriously doubt that this new technology will be any different, especially if we consider how many tests will be performed in a working day. My estimate would be 10 million pack tests in a working day.

Also, I would question the need for the technology. If we believe that there is a need to perform these point-of-dispensing checks, then we acknowledge that community and hospital pharmacy has received counterfeit medicines from their wholesalers and it is then our responsibility to put this right.

I believe that we need to ensure that the wholesalers are performing their role in providing genuine medicines to community and hospital pharmacy. Is it suggested that the wholesalers will not provide genuine medicines? Or that they will source their products from sources other than the manufacturers and then not check that the product is genuine?

As the primary means to guarantee that the medicines supplied to community and hospital pharmacies are genuine, the wholesalers need to certify that all medicines supplied are genuine and that they have been checked at the wholesaler site.

We must first ensure that entry of products into the supply chain is secure. It is far too late for a pharmacist to discover a counterfeit medicine at the point of dispensing. What would we say to our patient, “come back tomorrow”?

Peter McAuley


Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20066107

Readers' comments (1)

  • Thanks to Peter McAuley for raising some important points relating to the introduction of the EU's Falsified Medicines Directive. It beggars belief that many Pharmacists remain blissfully unaware of the revolution in practice that the FMD will demand. As previous contributors have pointed out: FMD promises much but before that huge potential is realised : I fear that much damage may result from the inflexibility of FMD protocols and controls: to a large extent, Pharmacists will be hamstrung in the delivery of Pharmaceutical Care and hence collateral damage to our customers and patients may be unavoidable (at least, in the initial stages).
    I can only hope that UK and Irish Pharmacists and specifically, those in leadership roles at GPhC and at RPS can lobby those in Authority (in respect of the implementation of FMD). Excellence in Pharmaceutical Care is a fragile and complex flower and FMD protocols implemented in a rigid fashion may inhibit all our efforts to achieve such excellence. We must seek to exploit all the benefits that FMD may offer but not at the price of short changing those whom we serve.

    Yours Sincerely, Tom Taaffe (MPSI) Ennis, Co Clare , Ireland

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