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Specials medicines vital for vulnerable patients

During the COVID-19 outbreak, APSM members are taking all appropriate measures to ensure the continuity of supply of specials medicines to community pharmacies, dispensing doctors and hospitals.   Specials manufacturers are a vital part of the pharmaceutical supply chain, responsible for around 50,000 unlicensed medicine prescriptions for vulnerable patients in England each month.  The Association of Pharmaceutical Specials Manufacturers represents around 80% of specials manufacture in England and its members are maintaining safe practices and committing to the ongoing fulfilment of all orders from their pharmacy customers throughout the pandemic.
As specials are often prescribed to patients in vulnerable groups including the elderly, paediatrics and those with chronic health conditions, it has never been more important that these patients’ essential medication needs are met in a timely way.  Where possible, our members are continuing to meet their next day delivery commitments and a…

How Specials manufacturers support community pharmacists

APSM member companies dedicate their resource and expertise to this very specialist area of medicines manufacture. They are an essential partner to pharmacists and can streamline the process from assessing the formulation, through quality manufacture to timely delivery.Most pharmacists are only called upon to dispense a handful of specials prescriptions each month.A specials manufacturer can help pharmacists to navigate the complexities of supply and avoid issues with reimbursement. 

The following summarises the ways in which APSM member processes align with RPS guidelines1

1. ESTABLISH THE OPTIMAL TREATMENT FOR THE PATIENT  “All treatment options are evaluated. Prescribers and pharmacists work together to ensure that Specials are only supplied when the patient has a special clinical need that cannot be met by an available licensed medicine (this special clinical need does not include reasons of cost, convenience or operational need’ A special can only be supplied when and if a licensed a…

What to look for in a Specials Manufacturer

What to look for in a Specials Manufacturer


For anyone looking for a Specials supplier, this article in Independent Community Pharmacist gives some useful advice. Sourcing Specials

Or you can check out the information on our APSM website which lists the quality criteria required of holders of an MHRA specials manufacturing licence.  It also includes some of the additional services provided by APSM member companies.

APSM website


Patient experience is at heart of decision to prescribe a special

When the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) updated it’s guidance on the procurement and supply of specials1, the focus was on putting the patient experience at the very heart of the process. The APSM supports this approach, believing that the emphasis on cost in recent years has sometimes clouded this underlying principle of a special provision. Says the RPS Guideline, the starting point is to establish the optimal treatment for the patient, this means that if a suitable licenced medicine is not available a Special must be offered to meet the patient’s special circumstances and urgency of need for treatment.  This basic decision to supply a Special therefore, cannot be based on cost or convenience.  
Case Study: A GP prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug in a dispersible tablet formulation for a child with arthritis. A week later the mother returned to the GP because the child was still in pain despite giving the medicine as directed. The GP found out that the child had been given 50mg…

Specials record another year of delivering increased value to the NHS

The Specials Market in primary care was just over £80.5 million for the 12 month period Oct 15 - Sep 16.  Although the market continues to decline year-on-year, it is now stabilising following a period of readjustment in the wake of the Specials Tariff in November 2011.  During this time the mean cost per item has reduced from £180 per item before the tariff in Nov 2011, to an average £116 for the same 12 month period to Sep 2016.
Whilst this represents value for money to the NHS, at the same time the high standards of quality involved in Specials manufacture have needed to be maintained.  According to the Association of Pharmaceutical Specials Manufacturers, APSM, members report continued investment in infrastructure and quality processes to meet the increasing regulatory demands required by the sector.
To reflect the increased complexity of the market, last year (2016), the Association of Pharmaceutical Specials Manufacturers, APSM, decided to broaden its membership criteria to the w…

APSM expands membership to reflect changing role of specials industry

The Association of Pharmaceutical Specials Manufacturers, APSM, has broadened its membership criteria to include importers as well as virtual Specials manufacturing organisations who own the rights to, and act as the first supplier of, a Specials medicine in the UK. Originally founded to represent the interests of holders of a Specials Manufacturing Licence, the APSM has an important role liaising with the DH and key policy makers as well as inputting into decisions around new legislation and Specials guidance. The decision to broaden membership to the wider supply chain reflects the changing shape of the Specials market, particularly over the last 5 years following the introduction of the Specials Tariff alongside a developing regulatory framework and professional guidance around Specials.  Influencing and responding to issues in this changing market has also become a more important role for the APSM. APSM Chair, Sharon Griffiths, said, “The decisions and actions we take now have impl…

The APSM updates website

The APSM has launched our new website which is the definitive source of information about Specials in the UK.  In addition to updated content about the role of Specials in the patient journey, there is detailed information about the regulatory framework for prescribing Specials and up-to-date market stats about the cost of Specials in the UK.

Designed for anyone involved in prescribing or dispensing Specials, the website contains lots of useful tools to support clinical understanding and decisions around the use of unlicensed medicines. There are also links to useful resources such as professional guidance and the Drug Tariff.

Says the APSM, the website is designed to promote the important role of Specials Manufacturers in helping to meet this important area of patient clinical need with high quality advice and product information.

WWW.APSM-UK.COM