Product shortages have been a problem for pharmacies and other healthcare providers for many years. They can have a significant effect on patients and pharmacies; not to mention the NHS as a whole. 

Stock shortages for patients can result in more frequent visits to the local pharmacy, when the full prescription is not available. Shortages unavoidably lead to increased time spent by pharmacists in sourcing products, discussing alternatives with prescribers, and counselling patients. ‘Double Dispensing’ may also occur, where patients have to return to the pharmacy at a later date with an “owing card” for the second half of their prescription. As well as the increased cost of sourcing alternatives, the unavailability of a key medicine can lead to more serious consequences, such as the exacerbation of a patient’s condition; ultimately increasing hospital admissions and treatment costs.

Accord and Mawdsleys are acutely aware, that particularly within a hospital pharmacy setting, the demand for specific medicines does not disappear simply because a product is unavailable. An extortionate amount of time is spent in the majority of hospital pharmacy departments sourcing, procuring and investigating out of stock issues, often relying heavily on a network of hospitals to help provide support at difficult times.

Naturally, both wholesalers and manufacturers play a vital role in ensuring that the supply chain remains stable. Mawdsleys work very closely with manufacturers to understand their business and find ways to collaborate to improve the supply of medicines to customers, and ultimately the patient. Recently Mawdsleys have begun distributing products for Accord Healthcare. Accord is a relative newcomer to the European pharmaceutical supplier scene, having commercialised its first product in 2008. The company, which is involved in all aspects of the pharmaceutical supply chain, has a consolidated presence in both hospital and retail sectors, as well as being one of the fastest growing generic pharmaceutical companies in the UK. Accord have successfully developed a process that allows them to bring high quality medicines to patients faster, more economically, and with greater innovation than their rivals. The key difference is the vertical integration offered by its parent group, Intas. This includes a product development team of 400 scientists, an in-house contract research organisation, Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient production and two largescale manufacturing sites in India.

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Accord is working towards further growth by doubling their current 2,500 product lines across Europe by 2017. Within that development are several differentiated generics, biosimilars and specialty brands. As part of Accord’s plan to offer a reliable supply of medicines, a European packaging and distribution centre was opened in the UK in 2009. The 13,000sqm complex, which has passed its UK Good Manufacturing Practice inspection, coordinates primary blister packaging for tablets and capsules, including oncology drugs. Also undertaken at the site is secondary packaging; such as pasting stickers and inserting patient information leaflets. The centre also houses dedicated automated lines for labelling and packaging vials. This flexibility allows Accord to quickly react to ever-changing market dynamics and ultimately improve the supply of medicines to patients in the UK and Europe. In addition to having UK finished goods stored in their warehouse, Accord also keep a large amount of semi-finished goods, which can be packed at short notice into any EU livery where demand has unexpectedly increased. Future plans include a new facility to supply Western European markets, as well as obtain accreditation for two of Intas’ plants, which seek to double capacity. This will ensure that Accord can continuously supply to highly-regulated markets. Here at Mawdsleys, we feel that it is imperative to work alongside suppliers to tackle inevitable issues such as supply chain shortages. Originally distributing hospital products directly, the need to distribute through a wholesaler soon became apparent to Accord in order to optimise the supply chain. As a result, Mawdsleys were chosen as a partner from February 2015. Feedback from customers confirmed acceptance and in many quarters, delight to have a choice of wholesaler to receive their Accord products from. Customers felt more secure knowing that there was a greater depth of stock across the supply chain. Accord’s UK Hospital Business Manager Girish Mistry has commented:

 

“One great advantage of using Mawdsleys to manage our distribution is that stock levels are monitored at each branch and can be quickly moved around the network if an issue occurs. This also holds true for both  cytotoxic and fridge lines which are an important part of our portfolio”.

 

The extra levels of stock held across the Mawdsleys depots help to smooth out any short term and minor supply interruptions. Additionally, the ability to quickly move remaining stock around the network means that if a more serious issue occurs, the remaining stock can be utilised most effectively. Mawdsleys and Accord are continuously working together, to share information relating to any disruption to supply, which helps the flow of information to the hospital trusts.