11/12 March 2020
The quality, safety and efficacy of medicinal products depend on a whole range of different factors. The most important factors are that medicinal products have been manufactured and distributed in a compliant manner. The patient is not always able to judge this properly, which is why they must rely on all stakeholders involved in the manufacturing and distribution chain. Obvious transport damage might be easy to detect, whereas inappropriate storage may not be identified easily. Drug theft is an increasing issue here, as well.
Nowadays, drug products as well as active substances are traded globally. They often change hands several times. Besides the related dangers such as mix-ups, wrong storage or improper transport, the danger of theft is also growing. This is a matter of financial loss at first. But the stolen drugs often also find their way back into the supply chain. Meanwhile, storage and transport are not controlled. And due to the original packaging, this is hard to detect.
Although the proportion of theft of medicinal products in the UK is rather low, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency MHRA is currently publishing a series of blog posts with the aim "to assist distributors to improve security standards". In the first part of the MHRA Inspectorate Blog "Supply Chain Security", Terry Madigan, GDP inspector at MHRA, gives the reader results of a survey conducted in 2017. According to that 58% of the manufacturers, wholesalers and transport companies who responded were aware of medicine theft. Terry Madigan sees for the other 42% an opportunity "for improvement in developing good security awareness and security culture". Further in the blog it is discussed, when and how stolen and missing medicines should be reported to police and MHRA.