Al Patel, contractor at Lee Pharmacy in south east London, reports on how his staff have been preparing for the introduction of the Falsified Medicines Directive
It’s the final week before the FMD deadline and we’ve done everything we can to prepare.
Last week there were two main developments. First, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) cleared up the confusion about whether the UK is still going to go ahead with a version of the directive in case of a no-deal Brexit - we’re going ahead regardless so either way, we still have to prepare. That was very helpful.
The second development is that after registering with the Medicines Verification System (MVS), we received our SecurMed login details via email on Thursday. But, because of security concerns, we have been sent our password separately in the mail, which still hasn’t arrived. So we’re sort of in limbo right now - I hope it shows up soon. We’re concerned about getting our software up and running.
We do have a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) ready in draft format but we can’t finalise them until we can practice what we’re doing. We still don't know how the new software is going to integrate with our workflow on a day to day basis.
Ideally, we were hoping to have everything set up towards the end of last week or at least by early this week. But because the system isn’t up and running yet, and our barcode scanners still haven’t arrived, we haven’t been able to train the staff.
So that’s the plan for this week. I’m hoping by the time we have our weekly meeting on Thursday (7 February), the scanners and password will have arrived and we can do a trial run and finalise our SOPs. It shouldn't take too long, maybe only a few hours.
If I think back to how things were a few weeks ago, it's definitely eased up. As the deadline approaches, I’m less anxious. Information about issues we’ve had in the past has slowly trickled down to us, even if it is incomplete. For example, the announcement about Brexit and getting our login details.
What also helps is knowing that all pharmacies across the country are at the same stage in this process. There was news late last week that Boots and Lloydspharmacy aren't ready yet either and that they’re not going to be prepared before the deadline, so that’s good news for me. It's not just the local contractors who are having issues, but the big multiples are as well.
Touch wood, by Thursday we should have all the missing pieces coming together and staff should be more confident about operations.
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