Thursday, 5 November 2015


The APSM, Association of Pharmaceutical Specials Manufacturers, is reminding pharmacists of the importance of 24 hour turnaround for bespoke Specials prescriptions.  All APSM members sign up to a commitment of timely delivery to patients1 and for all members that now means next day delivery as standard.   Members report that between 95-99% of orders are despatched the same day of receipt for delivery the following.
Said, APSM Chair Sharon Griffith, “What may have started as an effort to offer competitive advantage – we’re happy to say is now the norm amongst APSM members which is good news for patients.   Patients who are prescribed Specials often have a specific and urgent clinical need - they should not have to wait for this medicine just because it isn’t a licensed or off the shelf preparation.”
Although Specials manufacturers are geared towards bespoke manufacture it can still present a challenge.  With more than 20,000 potential preparations on our systems – we can’t predict what’s coming or think ‘we’ll save it and make a batch next week’.  An order is received, it is manufactured, goes through QA and is despatched all within 24 hours.  For a typical Specials manufacturer this can mean 500 different orders a day – and of course the inherent costs associated with express delivery costs and maintaining a high level of manufacturing capacity so that orders can always be fulfilled.
As ongoing medicine supply shortages result in longer waits for prescriptions, APSM is reassuring pharmacists that Specials manufacturers are continuing to meet patient need on a daily basis – 365 days a year.  Continuity of supply is being maintained in spite of the fact that Specials are unusual and account for less than 1% of all prescriptions annually. 
Said, Sharon, “We are committed to maintaining a sustainable manufacturing base for Specials in the UK and in spite of increased commercial pressure our APSM members have continued to invest in high quality infrastructure and processes.  In the last 5 years our members have collectively invested over £100m in service improvements – which is more than the value of the Specials market.

1. Members will at all times act in the interests of customers and ultimately patients with respect to the timely preparation and supply of Special medicines.  It is recognised that members frequently supply on an urgent basis and will protocols and standards to supply in accordance with such timelines.