Fear over transplant drug supply

Transplant patients could be at risk following a distribution change involving the supply of Tacrolimus to hundreds of dispensing practices, according to dispensing GPs.

Dr David Baker

Astellas Pharma, the manufacturer of Prograf, which contains Tacrolimus, will be shifting distribution to one wholesaler, Unichem, from the end of this month.

However the Dispensing Doctors Association (DDA) said that less than two weeks’ notice had been given, which does not give hundreds of dispensing practices time to get a Unichem account.

It is estimated that only 150 of the UK’s 1,400 dispensing practices currently have a Unichem account.

The DDA is meeting with Astellas to try to find a resolution, with options including asking for a U-turn on the single wholesaler move.

Dr David Baker, DDA chief executive, said the switch to a single supplier follows problems with not enough quantity of the treatment being made available.

‘It has told us that it has got the quantity right it’s just that some of it is going to other markets. By switching to a single wholesaler this gives it greater control but we are arguing that what there needs to be is more supply in the first place and to continue with multiple suppliers.’

Astellas has said in a statement that: ‘This change is in response to recent reports from UK pharmacists that they have had difficulties obtaining Prograf. We have acted with urgency to ensure the supply of these medicines to patients - taking the decision to distribute our transplant medicines directly to pharmacists and other dispensing points. We are confident this action will ensure the supply of these life saving medicines to UK patients.’

GPletters@haymarket.com

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