Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Astra Zeneca to follow in Pfizer's footsteps

Pfizer recently announced plans to change the way their medicines are delivered to pharmacies, hospitals and dispensing doctors, as reported here and here. Pfizer are changing from the current and successful model where manufacturers sell their products to wholesalers, who then sell it on and deliver it, often twice daily, to pharmacies. Pfizer want to introduce a system where pharmacies purchase direct from them, with deliver by one company. In this case it happens to be Unichem, the wholesale arm of AllianceBoots. There has been much debate in the letters of the Pharmaceutical Journal over the impact this move will have.

Well, surprise surprise, another company, Astra Zeneca, have decided to follow in Pfizer's footsteps, as reported in The Times. If these distribution arrangements are allowed to stand, it is likely that other manufacturers will jump on the bandwagon. This would be disastorous. The current model is resilient and works very well. The proposed model is anticompetitive and will not have the resilience of the current system. The future of independent regional wholesalers would also be in doubt as it is easier to make a profit on branded drugs as opposed to generics. Oh, and spare a thought for us poor overworked pharmacists. At present I only have to deal with one wholesaler, a regional independent wholesaler which is part of the company I work for. If anything is out of stock at the warehouse it is automatically ordered from Unichem or AAH by head office. My life is very simple at present. If Astra Zeneca use AAH as their delivery agent, and Sanofi choose Phoneix, Lilly someone else and Novartis yet another company, then ordering will be made so much more complicated and time consuming. And it's not like I don't have enough things to do as it is.

Thankfully, some MPs are on the ball, and have signed a motion opposing Pfizer's move. This system will be bad for the NHS, bad for pharmacies and most importantly of all, bad for patients. Please write to your MP and let them know how concerned you are about this.


Anonymous Paul said...

You want to try dealling with up to 20 suppliers, in an environment where drugs often go out of stock for months at a time. I agree that the system here seems to be much more efficient but unfortunately I think that the forces of chaos will win.

6:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

amazing stuff thanx :)

4:04 am  

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