The Mirage of R&D

‘Research and Development’ (R&D): Two words that drug manufacturers often use as a defence, when questioned about the ways in which they spend their vastly accumulated wealth.

Since the process of identifying drugs is shown to be expensive, pharmaceutical giants have wrongly stated this as a cover to charge exorbitant amounts to Governments who fund their R&D processes by offering them guaranteed net returns. These returns when compared to the airlines industry are around 13% higher.

There is conclusive evidence in the ‘Boston University Report of 2000’ that points towards the top 9 drug manufacturers spending an average of only 15% of pharmaceutical revenue on research and development. This led to these manufacturing companies acquiring no less than 10 smaller rival companies (paying mostly in cash), in the midst of the worst financial crisis in the last 80 years. It is a fact that no other industry including the banking industry has these levels of cash reserves.

Hiding behind a high risk model to justify their steep drug costs, pharmaceutical giants have been dishing out CEO salaries and accumulating profits that exceed any other industry, according to the Boston University report of 2000.

Such are the lengths to which drug giants are willing to go in order to increase their profits, even if it’s at the cost of patients losing their lives.

As a direct consequence of pharmaceutical companies monopolising the market, instances of drug shortages have been rampant in the UK over the past two years in spite of the many efforts made by authoritative figures to control it. The reasons given by large pharmaceutical manufacturers cover public law issues such as The Competition Act of 1998, The Medicines Act 1968 and The European Competition Law. With respect to this, no public regulatory body has been able to understand this matter, let alone find a way to resolve it.

When faced with drug shortages, wholesalers and independent pharmacists cannot even think of writing to these big pharmaceutical companies to voice their complaints/concerns, as they are unable to adhere to the pharmaceutical manufacturer’s imposed terms and conditions that unjustly render a wholesaler or an independent pharmacist unfit to avail of certain branded medications.

The British Independent Pharmacy and Wholesale Association assists and guides independent pharmacies and wholesalers that are engaged in the export and import of medicines into and out of the UK. It helps them acquire hard to get medication through the promotion of a ‘Good Distribution Practice’ (GDP).

BIPWA has been created to give independent pharmacists and wholesalers a united voice to help them stand up to the unscrupulous manufacturers and their tyrannical hold on the smooth functioning of the pharmacy profession.

The British Independent Pharmacy and Wholesale Association (BIPWA) represent Independent pharmacists involved in the medicines supply chain, which is vital for the protection of patients.

The purpose of BIPWA is to make sure that the members and the sector that it represents exceed the safety and regulatory demands of the supply chain and that they continue to conduct business that adds value to the health of UK patients.

BIPWA membership offers a unique platform for your voice to be heard, whilst having access to all the support and guidance that you need. So don’t waste time and sign up today by logging onto our website’s membership page – or by calling us on 0800 009 3216

Choose the type of membership that suits you best and get acquainted with the information that you need in order for your pharmacy to succeed!


NHS England calls on pharmacists to share thoughts on future of health system:– BIPWA’s response

Calling the current health system ‘unsustainable’, the NHS had on December 10th launched a ‘Call To Action’ consultation wherein pharmacists were encouraged to share their thoughts on how they could contribute to the wider primary care strategy.

England’s NHS planned to ask all participants in their ‘Call To Action’ consultation for ways in which community pharmacies could contribute to patient care outside hospitals, manage patients with long-term conditions, provide healthy living advice and deliver high-quality services that “improve efficiencies across the whole healthcare system”.

The above mentioned suggestions that were asked of pharmacists all have a common denominator – Drug Shortages!

Supply chain restrictions would indeed cripple a pharmacy’s ability to contribute to patient care outside hospitals as well as manage patients with terminal/long term ailments. How could a pharmacy give healthy living advice and deliver high-quality services when it is not in a position to supply its customers with life sustaining medications?    

It’s surprising to see how much a smooth functioning supply chain, void of restrictions, could influence a pharmacy’s ability to not only uphold its Public Service Obligation (PSO) but also the integrity of the pharmacy profession/healthcare system as a whole.

The British Independent Pharmacy and Wholesale Association (BIPWA) was formed for the protection of the UK’s pharmacy profession. It gives independent pharmacists and wholesalers a platform to voice their opinions collectively and makes sure that the grievances of its each and every member is heard and that they continue to conduct business that adds value to the health of UK patients.

“We want community pharmacy to play an even stronger role at the heart of more integrated services. I am confident the wider public discussion [will] generate many primary-care themed discussions and issues, as well as potential solutions,” – NHS England deputy chief pharmaceutical officer Clare Howard

In order for community pharmacy to play an even stronger role, the UK Government and regulatory bodies must pay heed to the ever increasing supply chain restrictions at the hands of unscrupulous drug manufacturers. Corrective steps must be taken at the earliest in order to arrest these supply chain impediments.



UK drugs shortages harming patients in 75% of cases

A yearlong investigation conducted by Chemist and Druggists shows, on average, UK pharmacists are spending two working days a month at the least to chase drug manufacturers and wholesalers to acquire out-of-stock medicines.  As a consequence of these shocking developments, pharmacies have reported 75% of patients suffering harm as a result of UK drugs shortages, a majority of which experienced moderate harm while 12% were noted to suffer severe harm. 

In light of this flaw in the current functioning of the supply chain, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s spokesman Neal Patel has told ‘Pharma Times World News’ that the government must take decisive steps in order to ensure patient access to medicine as and when deemed necessary, in the fight to prevent UK drugs shortages.

Playing its part, the British Independent Pharmacy and Wholesale Association (BIPWA) aims to help the pharmaceutical profession alleviate the problems currently in the supply chain.

Pharmacies cannot meet their public service obligation to the health of their customers when UK drugs shortages mean they are unable to receive badly needed medications.

Keeping this in mind, BIPWA and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society are unanimous in agreeing that the current supply chain is in an unfit state, particularly with problems relating to UK drugs shortages. According to Mr. Patel, “Patients have endured the effects of a failing supply system for too long. Voluntary agreements have been signed between Government and others involved in the supply chain to improve access to medicines, the C and D survey shows we have seen no improvements at all”.

In his statement to Pharma Times, health minister Earl Howe said, “We know stock shortages are of great concern to pharmacy teams and I am grateful to Chemist and Druggist and its readers for making this information available.  We will consider it carefully.”

BIPWA, reiterating Mr. Patel’s sentiments, calls on the UK government and regulatory bodies to be sure footed in their approach to solve the ever increasing supply chain restrictions in UK drugs shortages before they reach unmanageable levels and more patients suffer.


UK Pharmaceutical community seek support as workload pressures mount – BIPWA’s response

According to a C+D poll conducted on the 23rd of August, nearly every 4 in 10 pharmacists in the UK pharmaceutical community have sought help for stress in the past year. Stress among pharmacists is on the rise on account of various reasons; the major reason is that quality time of pharmacists is spent on the phone speaking to suppliers in an attempt to source medication supplies. In the UK pharmaceutical community, this further leads to neglecting patients who cannot be attended to by the pharmacist due to insufficient time on their hands.

As far as the type of help sought after by pharmacists in the UK pharmaceutical community are concerned; a survey conducted this month by the GP magazine: Pulse – has come up with figures that suggest around 12% had sought help from pastoral or wellbeing services in the past year. Pharmacy leaders in the UK pharmaceutical community believe that it is the increased work pressures that have led to these findings. Rising prescription volumes and pressure to conduct services has inevitably led to the high stress levels among pharmacists, sector leaders told C+D.

Sourcing stock from drug companies has always been a strenuous exercise because of the restrictions placed on the UK pharmaceutical community. These vary from reasons as simple as National Stock shortages to even more technically challenging reasons put forth by the manufacturers. Medicines are reclassified as ‘Hospital Only or Homecare only”, without the requisite changes made to the Marketing Authorisation of the product.

Commenting on these work pressures, the director of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) Mr. John Murphy said, “This pressure is the cancer within our profession. Employers just want to make as much money as possible from dispensing”. He went on to state that, “Unfortunately, it may be that it will take a major patient safety catastrophe for employers to take this issue seriously.” We add that the employers (the pharmacy owners; need not be pharmacists) have a smaller role to play in the bigger picture run by the pharmaceutical companies.

The Big Pharma in the UK pharmaceutical community maintain a stronghold on the supply chain through a monopolistic approach, which would be nullified if drugs were made available to all who need without the imposed restrictions. An instance of this work related stress can be better understood by the following real life account given by a Pharmacy technician in the UK. In his narration he calls the predicament that pharmacists find themselves in these days “appalling” with respect to the fact that since 1987, he has been a first-hand witness to “how things have changed and absolutely not for the better”. The most alarming part of the above account given by the pharmacy technician in question is that stress levels of working in a UK pharmaceutical community has led him to quit the profession.

BIPWA would like to implore all pharmacists in UK pharmaceutical community, not to quit when the going gets tough and instead take advantage of associations like itself, which are there to support them. If we voice our opinions and concerns together we can bring about a favourable change in the supply chain and as a result better support patients. Stay true to your profession by being a more informed pharmacist and instilling more faith into your patients. Utilise BIPWA’s un-matchable services in the UK pharmaceutical community and realise your pharmacy/wholesale units full potential. Ducking under the pressure and stress that goes with being a pharmacist in today’s day and age, leads to the detriment of patients’ health.

For more information please contact us on 0800 009 3216,  email or visit our website Image