So how was FMD Day for you? The EU’s anticounterfeit regulations finally came into force on February 9 but, despite some glitches, it passed largely without incident. This was mainly because currently only a small proportion of packs have the new safety features – probably fewer than one in five – and most pharmacies missed the deadline for a variety of logistical reasons.
With many businesses struggling to implement FMD, let alone see its benefits, the GPhC’s decision to take a “pragmatic and proportionate approach” with pharmacists working to meet the new requirements was welcome. That said, FMD remains a costly and disruptive distraction at a time when contractors can least afford it.
Meanwhile, the BMA has got its prescribing knickers in a twist about serious shortage protocols, in particular when pharmacists would be allowed to dispense therapeutic equivalents where a prescribed drug is not available in the case of a serious national shortage. The medics object to this, but aren’t pharmacists the experts in medicines? Hardly a collaborative approach to a potentially serious problem.
Finally, I wrote last month that the enthusiasm of NHS England for ‘clinical’ pharmacists in general practice should not be at the expense of community pharmacy. Yet with “thousands of opportunities” opening up for pharmacists to work primarily from surgeries across primary care networks as part of the new five-year GP contract, the implications for the community pharmacy sector in terms of recruiting and retaining pharmacists could be far-reaching.