The European directives deadline on Counterfiet medicines legislation enactment is drawing nearer, therefore, we must begin to ask ourselves the question, are we prepared? The UK currently has a total pharmacy workforce of approximately 150,000 people, of which 50,000 are pharmacists 1. And, we are yet to see any documentation in circulation by companies regarding this inevitable legislation. This report will explore 4 ways of which the EU legislation will impact and transform pharmacy as we know it.
Pharmacy and barcodes….
The introduction of barcodes on medication will have a variety of effects on the way we practice as pharmacist.
- Physical transformation – For the pharmacy to transform to incorporate the use of barcodes. Scanners and software’s will have to be obtained, along with this, a commitment to maintenance and validation of the processes and equipment.
- Mental transformation – A new culture will have to be cultivated to ensure that all pharmacy workforce such as dispensers and medicines counter staff will have being appropriately trained to mentally adopt these changes. A few questions worth considering are what could happen if a member of staff forgets to scan a medication? How do you ensure staffs adhere to this process?
- Legal transformation – Majority of the SOPs relating to prescription only medicines will have to either be amended or written afresh to incorporate the dynamics of this new technology. There may also be a new dimensions imposed on indemnity by insurance providers due to the new 3d barcodes. A few question worth checking with insurance providers, maybe what happens if the computer system fails, can I dispense the medicines without scanning the bar-codes?
- Process transformation – inevitably the processes we follow will change, for example, the way we process a recall will change. It is important to start thinking of the best work flow for dispensing under these conditions. And also the best workflow for managing stock under these conditions.
Is the grass greener on the other side?
Like most things, change brings along a certain degree of sceptics and uncertainty. And these concerns maybe absolutely valid and should be considered in all decision makings to effectively plan and strategize a suitable course of action. It is fair to conclude that the change will be consuming with regards to time, operational, finance and administrative aspects of the business. However, adequate business forecast, strategy and sufficient preparation should help to minimise the impact to the business.
Are there benefits?
- Patients – the barcodes will help increase patient safety by reducing the chances of counterfeit medicines reaching the end-user. This should also benefit patients in other countries such as Africa of which unfortunately, have been easy victims of counterfeit medicines2.
- Pharmacy- although initially the implementation will be cost intensive, there may also be some investment by other industries or indeed the government. It is also important that, as the process and implementation is perfected or improved the cost will eventually decrease. There will also be benefits of the technology3, as the technology develops we may see the technology aiding in accuracy of dispensing or stock management, fewer errors will ensure business image is protected and help mitigate insurance risk.
- Pharmacist – barcodes will become useful for patient safety, and may be able to incorporate useful information such as a patient information leaflet of which the patient can scan when at home. The technology may aid in reducing dispensing errors, if the medication is scanned prior to dispensing. We also believe the technology could be used to accurately capture data for near miss, further improving dispensing practise.
- Pharmaceutical industry – barcodes are a useful ways to connect with the end-users without actually breaking the law. Now, it is important to ensure all materials have been approved by a final signatory, but we believe barcodes could be a useful way to build customer relationship by ensuring ‘Safety’. Why not consider including your risk minimisation material?
Created by Pharmacistweb
- http://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/comm-pharm-res-pack.pdf (accessed on 18/09/2015)
- http://www.verifiedlabel.com/knowledgecenter/know_barcodes.aspx (accessed on 18/09/2015)
- http://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/may-2013/counterfeit-drugs-raise-africa%E2%80%99s-temperature (accessed on 18/09/2015)