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17 April 2007

It's a bitter pill to swallow! - Banffshire Journal

A BANFF pensioner was left without an emergency prescription because of changes in medical deliveries to the North-east.

Pharmacist Bruce Scott was unable to supply a customer with his medicine.

The man, in his 70s, was told by doctors that he would have to go to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for a scan because of fears that his deep vein thrombosis had worsened.

But when he went to pick up his prescription from Bruce Scott's on High Street, Banff, he was told that the anti-coagulant would not be available in time for the scan the next day.

It is the latest in a series of cases that have come to light following global drugs firm Pfizer's decision to review their distribution system, which involves them now using a depot in Livingston, near Edinburgh.

Medicines are sent out to pharmacies, hospitals and doctors exclusively by UniChem, which has no distribution depots north of Livingston.

Ordering deadlines for North-east chemists have been brought forward from 1pm to 10am.

Mr Scott told the 'Banffshire Journal' that he and other chemists were concerned and were keeping track of problems.

"They have brought the cut-off time forward. I could place an order up until 1pm, but now it's 10am," he said.

"If we get scripts that are of an urgent nature between 10am and 1pm, there is a possibility a patient could end up in hospital.

"A gentleman who required an injection needed an anti-coagulant; he was going to get an emergency appointment for a scan the following day. But because we could not get the injection required, to be administered here to him, that was cancelled."

Mr Scott said that the health of the man, who has not been named, could have been placed in danger. "There was a problem there. He could have been hospitalised because we couldn't obtain that prescription in time," said Mr Scott.

"There has been a few other things. We are monitoring all these different things that are happening. We all knew that this would happen. but there was no consultation with community pharmacies."

Mr Scott's concerns, along with those of a number of other pharmacists throughout the country, have been noted by rival pharmaceutical firm AAH, who have passed the information on to politicians, including Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson.

Mr Stevenson has raised the matter with Health Minister Andy Kerr. He said: "I am absolutely appalled that the consequences of this are that at least one person has had their hospital appointment cancelled because the required medication for them to take at home in advance of their hospital visit could not be delivered in time.

"This is exactly the sort of problem that pharmacists flagged up with me and which Pfizer were told repeatedly would be an inevitable consequence of their new distribution system.

"I know that the Health Minister has expressed similar concerns after I raised the issue with him last month and that he, too, has written to Pfizer."

Pfizer were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

to read the original story click on Banffshire Journal

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