These commentaries by John Macgill represent his opinions only and not those of any Ettrickburn client.

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Three Nations Three Practices

Community Pharmacy Eliminating Hepatitis C

Homeless People make Glasgow

Heart Failure – we can get treatment right for everyone

Bundles of Safety

Community Pharmacy’s Leader in Scotland

CPO: On the Road to Achieving Excellence

Pharmacy technicians may become prescribers

Profile: Dr Norman Lannigan OBE

Profile: Jonathan Burton MBE

Profile: Clare Morrison MBE

Deep Dive Pharmacy

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Bundles of Safety

Supporting Excellence - Alison Strath Interview

2018 Pharmacy Forum Agenda Launched

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Three Perspectives on Pharmacy and Mental Health

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Bordering on Problematic

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VACANCY Reporter/Researcher: Health and Care Policy in Scotland

Prescribing in Mental Illness – A Practice Pharmacist’s Perspective

What Matters to You? Communication in Pharmacy

Prescribing in Mental Illness – A Patient’s Perspective

Focusing the Vision: Dr Rose Marie Parr on the new strategy for Scottish pharmacy

All the things that could go wrong - looking ahead to the SNP conference

Ask Once, Get Help Fast? Pharmacy and Mental Health

Automation and Delegation in Pharmacy: Understanding the Moving Parts

Initiatives Highlight Potential of Community Pharmacy

Pharmacy First in Forth Valley One Year On

Trying to concentrate on the day job

Health and the Local Elections – a strange silence

The Pharmacist Will See You Now – The Growth of GP Pharmacy

Montgomery’s Review – Dr Brian Montgomery answers questions on access to new medicines in Scotland

An afternoon with SMC

Pharmacists at SMC

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Scotland’s New Health Committee

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Comparison of Funds: New Medicines v Cancer Drugs

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A tribute to five retiring MSPs

New Medicines Review - Health Committee sends findings to Government

Medicines New & Old in the Scottish Cancer Strategy

Great Ambitions, Slow Progress – New Models of Care in Scotland

Scottish Minsters Demand Up-Front Medicine Price Negotiation

Opportunity and Disappointment: MSPs Investigate New Medicines Access

Scottish NHS Strategy calls for 'Realistic Medicine'

The Scottish Model of Value for Medicines: Taking Everything into Consideration

When SMC Says No: An Access to Medicines Lottery

Reviewing the Review: Access to New Medicines in Scotland

A day of psephology and kidology

Insulting the Lifesavers

Worthy of Mention – Health and Science in the Honours List

News Silence from North of the Border

A Christmas PPRS Present from Pharma

Wednesday, December 7, 2016: Pharmacists at SMC

The following interview is published in the new edition of Scottish Pharmacist magazine, available on line at

The pharmacy profession is involved throughout the chain of decision making processes around every new medicine considered for use in NHS Scotland. Scottish Pharmacist asked the Chairman of the Scottish Medicines Consortium, Professor Jonathan Fox, to explain the profession’s input at the different stages.

JM: What role do pharmacists play, working alongside other professionals, in the SMC process (up to and including SMC publishing its advice)?

JF: Pharmacists are vital to our work. Since the inception of SMC in 2001, pharmacists have been central to the work of SMC and are very actively involved in both the New Drugs Committee (NDC) and SMC.

We have 13 pharmacists on the core SMC staff, who are involved in all SMC activities, including the critical appraisal of the submissions, horizon scanning and the PACE process. The head of the SMC staff team, Anne Lee, is a pharmacist. We currently have eleven pharmacist members sitting on NDC / SMC and SMC’s most recent past chair, Professor Angela Timoney, is a pharmacist. We have also had a pharmacist chair of NDC, Dr Jan Jones, who is now one of our Principal Pharmacists, and of course there are our vice chairs, Gail Caldwell and Caroline Hind. Across the whole range of our work, from submission assessment to senior decision making, pharmacists play an essential role – SMC couldn’t function without them.

JM: How is community pharmacy represented on SMC and in its decision-making processes?

JF: We currently have two senior pharmacists with community pharmacy responsibilities who are full members of SMC and are also vice chairs for the Committee chairs, myself and Dr Alan Macdonald. They are Gail Caldwell, Director of Pharmacy at NHS Forth Valley and Caroline Hind, Deputy Director of Pharmacy and Medicines Management at NHS Grampian. Both Gail and Caroline have health board responsibilities for the operational management and development of Primary Care Pharmacy Services, including community pharmacy services, so they provide valuable expertise to SMC, ensuring that decisions are made with full understanding of key community pharmacy issues.

We also have several NDC and SMC members who have primary care roles in health boards and a large pool of clinical experts who advise on our submissions including pharmacists working in a primary care setting.

JM: What do you see as the role of area drug and therapeutic committees and formulary pharmacists at board level in taking forward the advice of the SMC?

JF: SMC was set up as a consortium of the Area and Drug Therapeutic Committees (ADTCs) across Scotland – to create efficiencies and avoid duplication by taking a ‘once for Scotland’ approach in the assessment of all new medicines. This has been very effective and allows ADTCs to concentrate on other medicines governance activities focusing on the safe and effective use of all medicines, not just new ones.

All ADTCs have well established processes in place to review the advice from SMC, which is issued to them confidentially on the first Friday of each month, four weeks before it is published on the SMC website.

Health board pharmacists play a pivotal role in these processes, as a key part of the multidisciplinary team who support the implementation of SMC advice within a local context. This may be in relation to the development of shared care arrangements, guidelines or local pathways of care. Pharmacists across the range of clinical settings work closely with other healthcare professionals to ensure their patients have early access to clinically and cost-effective new medicines.