Antidepressants to be added to new drug service in 2023

Antidepressants to be added to new drug service in 2023

Antidepressants will be added to the New Medical Service (NMS) from April 2023, subject to analysis of an ongoing pilot, as part of an agreement for the last two years of the current community pharmacies contract.

Launched in 2011, the NMS enables community pharmacists to support patients who have received newly prescribed medications in a variety of therapy areas, including osteoporosis, gout, heart failure and glaucoma.

The service was expanded from 4 therapy areas to 16 areas in August 2021, as part of the agreement for the third year of the five-year community pharmacy contract, but did not include depression – a move described as “a serious omission” by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).


Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), said the ongoing pilot project looked at educational needs for pharmacists advising on antidepressant use and “network logistics”, such as how and where to refer patients. by pharmacists.

“This is something that many people had hoped would be included in the NMS from the start,” he said.

Thorrun Govind, chair of the RPS’s English Pharmacy Board, said: “It is good to finally see the inclusion of antidepressants in the NMS so that people with mental illness can benefit from the support of pharmacists at the start of their treatment. Adherence to therapy can be a major issue for this class of drugs, as it can take time for benefits to become apparent, and sometimes side effects can also deter patients who are already in distress. Having a pharmacist regularly monitor patients to help them get the most out of their medications will have a positive impact on health outcomes.

“Pharmacists and their teams already support patients with mental illness, so this is a logical extension of that role.”

Also included in the agreement for the last two years of the contract, which covers 2022/2023 and 2023/2024, is the use of pharmacy technicians to provide elements of the smoking cessation service and blood pressure monitoring service.

The agreement adds, “Other services or elements of services that may be provided by pharmacy technicians will also be reviewed during the remaining years of the deal.”

Buxton said he hoped these changes would be introduced before the end of 2022, but said they would require legislative changes.

The updated Pharmacy Quality Scheme, agreed as part of the contract, will include new criteria aimed at improving access to medicines to support palliative care and end-of-life care.

Pharmacies will need to update their NHS profile to indicate if they have 16 identified critical end-of-life drugs and have an action plan to support patients and carers in obtaining palliative and end-of-life drugs of their lives.


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