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Labour and Tories trade blows over pharmacy drug waste claims

By Neil Trainis

PUBLISHED: March 20, 2017 | UPDATED: March 20, 2017

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Labour councillor Karen Constantine has challenged Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay to produce evidence backing up a claim he made in a letter to a constituent that expired drugs costs the average pharmacy £10,000 every month.

Constantine, who is also a regional officer of the GMB trade union, went on the offensive following the claim in the letter dated February 1, seen by Pharmacy Business and written by Mackinlay, the MP for South Thanet.

Reacting to the letter, Constantine insisted no pharmacy would “willingly allow £10,000 worth of drugs to be wasted every month.” She also accused Mackinlay of being part of a “blatant ploy” by the government to privatise the NHS.

“We are calling on Craig Mackinlay to produce evidence of the claim he has made that expired drugs cost the average pharmacy £10,000 every month,” she said.

“We need to see the evidence for this claim as the figure of £10,000 seems to be very high if replicated across the 11,700 community pharmacies across the country.

“Many pharmacies will destroy an awful lot of returned medication from patients, which they have to legally do, but no pharmacy would willingly allow £10,000 worth of drugs to be wasted every month.

“Our local pharmacies are a vital community asset particularly as they are needed more than ever because of GP shortages and lack of public transport. This is a blatant ploy by our Tory MP who is part of a government who is determined to privatise the NHS services whether they be hospitals, social care or high street pharmacies.

“Our local MP should instead defend these essential services for the continuing use of South Thanet residents.”

When contacted by Pharmacy Business Mackinlay’s parliamentary office accused Constantine of trying “to score political points at every opportunity.”

“Sadly Karen very much tries to score political points at every opportunity. The information we were provided with came directly from a local pharmacy owner,” Mackinlay’s spokesperson said.

“Equally, in the letter Craig clearly prefaces this with ‘there is evidence to suggest.’ In no way stating it as an absolute fact. Unfortunately it does appear that Karen is trying to rope you into her local political games.”