• Issues affecting supply of palliative medicines into community pharmacy: A qualitative study of community pharmacist and pharmaceutical wholesaler/distributor perspectives

      Campling, N.; Breen, Liz; Miller, E.; Birtwistle, J.; Richardson, A.; Bennett, M.; Latter, S. (Elsevier, 2022-06)
      ackground Patient access to medicines in the community at end-of-life (pertaining to the last year of life) is vital for symptom control. Supply of such medicines is known to be problematic, but despite this, studies have failed to examine the issues affecting community pharmacy access to palliative medicines. Objective To identify community pharmacists' and pharmaceutical wholesalers'/distributors' views on supply chain processes and challenges in providing access to medicines during the last year of life, to characterise supply in this UK context. Methods Qualitative design, with telephone interviews analysed using Framework Analysis. Coding frames were developed iteratively with data analysed separately and then triangulated to examine differences in perspectives. Findings Thirty-two interviews (24 community pharmacists and 8 wholesalers/distributors) were conducted. To ensure appropriate palliative medicines were available despite occasional shortages, community pharmacists worked tirelessly. They navigated a challenging interface with wholesalers/distributors, the Drug Tariff to ensure reimbursement, and multiple systems. IT infrastructures and logistics provided by wholesalers/distributors were often helpful to supply into community pharmacies resulting in same or next day deliveries. However, the inability of manufacturers to predict operational issues or accurately forecast demand led wholesalers/distributors to encounter shortages with manufactured stock levels, reducing timely access to medicines. Conclusions The study identifies for the first time how palliative medicines supply into community pharmacy, can be improved. A conceptual model was developed, illustrating how influencing factors affect responsiveness and speed of medicines access for patients. Work is required to strengthen this supply chain via effective relationship-building and information-sharing, to prevent patients facing disruptions in access to palliative medicines at end-of-life.