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Home  »   Latest News   »   PDA discusses online supply of GLP-1 RA weight loss products on Woman’s Hour

PDA discusses online supply of GLP-1 RA weight loss products on Woman’s Hour

The PDA was invited to provide a spokesperson on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on 30 May 2024 as part of a short feature on the online prescribing of weight loss drugs. The feature included interviews with a patient, Alima Batchelor, Head of Policy at the PDA, and Professor James Kingsland OBE, the Chair of DiCE.

Fri 31st May 2024 The PDA

The PDA’s response to the Best Practice Guideline for Online Prescribing of Glucagon-like Receptor Agonists for Weight Management in Adults published on 1 May 2024 by the Digital Clinical Excellence Network was picked up in the pharmaceutical press. The PDA’s view is that supply of GLP-1 RAs should be in accordance with guidance from the General Pharmaceutical Council to ensure good professional practice, provide optimal patient care, and mitigate regulatory action against members.

Woman’s Hour

The PDA was interested to hear the views of the patient, who, whilst using what sounded like a professionally run online supplier herself, knew other people who did not fit NICE criteria for being prescribed such medicines, but had managed to source supplies online which they were selling on for profit on the black market. The patient felt that she would really prefer to obtain her medicine via her GP, allowing the opportunity to discuss her therapy.

The PDA believes that the following elements should form part of a safer and more professional approach:

  • Direct clinical conversations between the prescriber and patient via video consultation (preferred) or telephone calls to allow exploration and consideration of the person’s mental wellbeing and to ensure prescribing decisions do not rest solely on the contents of online questionnaires.
  • Use of questionnaires restricted to pre-consultation information gathering.
  • The reasons behind a refusal to share information with the patient’s GP should be explored in depth with the patient during the direct consultation. If the prescriber cannot assure themselves that a supply is safe or appropriate, they should advise the patient that they will be unable to make a supply. Their decision either way must be fully documented.
  • Patients should be encouraged to collect periodic supplies of their online prescription medicines from a local pharmacy so that they can benefit from confidential support and expert pharmacist advice on diet and lifestyle changes in accordance with the marketing authorisations of these medicines.

Dr Kingsland maintained that the guideline was one of a series which had a quality mark and noted that if people wanted to manipulate the supply system it was not always possible to stop them. He believed that AI would help to prevent fraud.

Listen to the discussion below.

Conclusion

Whilst GLP1-RA medicines remain hugely desirable and expensive, the risk of people attempting to obtain them inappropriately, either for personal use or for commercial gain, means that mechanisms for supply must support professionalism, patient safety, and the prevention of inappropriate supply.

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