GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is refusing to pay invoices from community pharmacists for the work done in managing a patient level medicine recall in 2010 - even after GSK lost their case in the district court.
On 26 September 2011, in the Manukau District Court, Judge Wiltens found that a reasonable and proper price should have been paid to Ian Johnson Pharmacy Ltd (IJPL) for services rendered during the Marevan recall on 28 January 2010. GSK had asked every community pharmacy to contact all patients who had Marevan (warfarin) 3mg dispensed since 23 November 2009. The legal action taken by IJPL was supported by the Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand (the Guild).
This court ruling was successful in establishing that pharmacists can reasonably expect to be paid when they are asked to provide their services.
"GSK told the court that IJPL would be treated as a test case. This means that other pharmacies could rely on the decision for their own payment," says the Guild's Chief Executive, Annabel Young. "GSK is now not willing to honour this decision."
The Guild's President, community pharmacy owner Karen Crisp, says the court's decision reinforces the legal obligation to pay a service provider for providing a service, even if that service is a matter of patient safety.
The Guild is going to produce a "How to" kit to help members who want to take their invoices to the Disputes Tribunal. "The Guild would rather see valuable community pharmacy resources invested in services to patients or continuing education, instead of debt collection," says Karen Crisp. "However, GSK need to pay for the service they asked community pharmacy to perform on their behalf."
GSK's behaviour is also clouding the question of what procedures are put in place around future recalls. "The Government should not accept this behaviour from any medicines company," says Annabel Young. "The Guild will be taking up the issue of future recalls with the Ministry of Health."
The Marevan recall occurred because of a suspected manufacturing problem where one affected batch of tablets potentially contained more warfarin than the labelled amount. Marevan is an anti-coagulant medicine taken by patients with an increased risk of blood clotting.
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