The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has said that changes to regulations on medicines supply should be subject to parliamentary scrutiny.

The Medicines and Medical Devices Bill, currently being examined by the Public Bill Committee, will confer power to ministers to amend or supplement medicines law, without the need for primary legislation.

The bill includes regulatory changes to permit inter-company hub and spoke dispensing, where a pharmacy outsources elements of its dispensing to a third party.

Seen as necessary to facilitate the uninterrupted business of government following the UK’s exit from the European Union, it also opens up the possibility of important changes to the rules around medicines supply taking place without sufficient parliamentary scrutiny and democratic accountability, the NPA argued, while making a formal submission to MPs.

The NPA has warned that “official claims about the benefits of inter-company hub and spoke are overblown and that it risks diminishing competition and choice in the pharmaceutical wholesale market without a level playing field.”

It’s chief executive Mark Lyonette said: “The changes relating to the safe supply of medicines that could be implemented using secondary legislation empowered under this Bill are significant. Big changes to the way that medicines are supplied to the public could be enacted without the need for further primary legislation.

“What matters to the people of this country should matter to our politicians – and people do care about the safe supply of medicines.  We want the provisions of this Bill to require both full consultation with stakeholders and sufficient parliamentary scrutiny.”

Following representations by the NPA, an amendment to the bill was laid last week, which if adopted would limit the power of ministers to amend or repeal provisions in an Act of Parliament using secondary legislation to two years, before requiring Parliamentary approval to extend them, the pharmacy body added.

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