AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly are the latest companies to acknowledge that
they are looking at changing the way that they distribute drugs in the UK.
However, AstraZeneca has vehemently denied claims in The Times newspaper that it plans to copy the controversial system that Pfizer intends to introduce from March 2007 which will see Alliance Boots division Unichem as its sole distributor.
AstraZeneca spokeswoman Jeannine Nolan told PharmaTimes World News that it “is important to correct certain inaccuracies in the press coverage,” adding that the firm has undertaken an independent strategic review of the management of the supply chain for its medicines in the UK and “we are still at a very early stage of that review process.”
When pressed on future as well as present distribution policy, Ms Nolan
stated that the “incredibly sensitive” nature of these arrangements meant
that AstraZeneca was remaining tight-lipped. “We are not yet in a position
to discuss details of the new model,” she concluded.
However, it seems that this new model will not follow the same
one-distributor path as Pfizer, as the company stated that it has
approached “a number of organisations that we believe are capable of
working with AstraZeneca for the supply of our medicines in the UK."
There is no doubting, however, that The Times article has stirred up debate. A Eli Lilly spokesman told the newspaper that the company was
having a “general rethink” about its supply and warehousing arrangements
and “informal discussions” were already under way with distributors.
Anger at Pfizer deal rages on
It has also put the spotlight back on Pfizer’s decision to choose a single
distributor, a move which has caused uproar. A number of complaints have
been made to the Office of Fair Trading amid fears that the changes will
undermine competition and create delays in the supply of vital medicines.
MPs are also up in arms over the Pfizer-UniChem link-up, with 45 of them
signing an early day motion tabled in Parliament last week that described
the deal as “anti-competitive, anti-community pharmacy, anti- patient and
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