UK defines supply chain roles during shortages

The UK government, responding to a shortage of drugs now numbering in the fifties, has outlined its expectations of the drug supply chain. Manufacturers and wholesalers have a "legal duty" to meet the needs of UK patients. Pharmacists and dispensing doctors have "ethical obligations," according to new guidance from the Department of Health.

Best Practice for Ensuring the Efficient Supply and Distribution of Medicines to Patients says that manufacturers should maintain regular phone or in-person contact with wholesalers to monitor products in short supply. In fact, drugmakers should name an employee as point person for wholesalers.

The guidance says also that manufacturers should have contingency plans for supplying products when stocks are exhausted downstream. Such plans may include direct shipment to pharmacies.

For wholesalers, the goal is equity in geographic distribution of available stock. The guidance calls for them to coordinate orders centrally as well as at the depot level.

- here's the guidance (PDF)