Pharmacy and Medicines Optimisation Team Plans

Herts Valley CCG (HVCCG) have a Pharmacy & Medicine Optimisation Team section on their website which can be accessed here. 

The Pharmacy and Medicines Optimisation Teams send regular updates to Herts Valleys CCG (HVCCG) Locality Community Pharmacies to help inform community pharmacies of their plans within the practices of HVCCG.  Copies of communications sent to the LPC can be accessed below:


02.11.2018 – European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD; 18th November 2018) and World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW; 12 – 18 November 2018) 

Community Pharmacists are important partners in the work to tackle Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR); Herts Valley CCG THANK YOU for your on-going effort in tackling AMR. Its is European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD; 18th November 2018) and World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW; 12 – 18 November 2018) and you are encouraged to use EAAD, WAAW and Antibiotic Guardian materials to help improve antimicrobial stewardship locally and launch plans for awareness raising or educational events at your pharmacy.

12.10.2018 –  Benzodiazepines and risk of suicide – memo from HMMC.  In a recent letter to mental health providers from NHS England and NHS Improvement, the potential risks of suicide associated with benzodiazepine prescribing and withdrawal were highlighted. In view of this letter, please find here a memo from HMMC. This reminds all prescribers of good practice when prescribing and withdrawing benzodiazepines and encourages consideration of the need to seek specialist advice from the local substance misuse service, CGL Spectrum.

Update on EpiPen® and EpiPen® Junior supply issues. Unfortunately, supply issues with EpiPen® and EpiPen® Junior continue and look to continue for some months. Supply of alternative adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs), i.e. Jext®, Emerade®, are in flux. Here is a supply disruption alert about EpiPen® and EpiPen® Junior recently issued by the Department of Health and Social Care. Actions for healthcare professionals regarding prescribing of AAIs during this time are contained with the alert. Please note the following advice within the alert: Patients should be advised not to dispose of their expired devices until they have replaced them. This is because AAIs will not actively cause harm if used after expiry but they may be less effective at treating the anaphylactic episode as the potency of the adrenaline gradually reduces (and is also dependent on the conditions they were stored in). It is still preferable to use a device even if it has expired, rather than no device at all, if an in-date device is not available. A dedicated page on the Specialist Pharmacy Service website ( contains information about the EpiPen® supply situation, as well as recommended courses of action, which will be posted and maintained as new information becomes available.


31.08.2018 – Diamorphine injections – Supply issues update and patient information

Update on the diamorphine supply issues from the Department of Health.

Diamorphine 5mg and 10mg Injection

Accord: are still out of stock of diamorphine 5mg and 10mg injection, but have advised that new stock of both strengths will be available during the w/c 27th August. There are further deliveries scheduled for both strengths through September, October and the coming months.

Wockhardt: still have supplies available, but they cannot support the full demand for primary and secondary care.

Supply issue should hopefully be resolved by early September.

Until this time therefore please continue with the management plan:

Primary care and drug misuse centres will be able to continue to order diamorphine in line with historical demand.

Secondary care will have access to limited supplies of diamorphine

Recommended Local Action – Primary care and drug misuse centres

  • Although you will be able to access diamorphine as per historical demand , prescribers are encouraged to be aware of the supply issues and reduce prescribing where appropriate.
  • Please order responsibly during this time, in line with historical demand and do not stock pile to avoid lengthening the stock out period.
  • In the case that diamorphine cannot be accessed, please refer to the clinical guidance issued by UKMI which provides more information on suggested alternatives to diamorphine: The first-choice is morphine which is given in detail in this link. If you require clinical guidance locally – please liaise with secondary care prescribing partners in substance misuse services or pain specialist services.
  • Further information which you may wish to review includes the Patient Safety Alert on high dose morphine and diamorphine

Distribution Arrangements 

  • Diamorphine 5mg and 10mg will only be available to order from Alliance. No minimum surcharges will be levied
  • Morphine 10mg injection (Martindale) available to order from AAH only.
  • Diamorphine 30mg injection (Wockhardt), diamorphine 100mg (Accord) and diamorphine 500mg (Accord and Wockhardt) – usual wholesalers.

For further information on ordering processes please contact:

Alliance – Phone Number: 0330 1000 448 –

AAH – Phone Number: 0344 561 8899



10.08.2018 – Updated guidance on Prednisolone for patients requiring soluble tablets or liquid formulation, attachment

Herts Valleys CCG aims to deliver savings in prescribing through promoting cost effective use of medication. Crushing and dispersing plain prednisolone tablets offers the lowest cost option where patients need a liquid formulation and is therefore the first line recommended option. In clinical situations where it is inappropriate to disperse plain tablets or where patients or carers are unable to crush and disperse tablets soluble prednisolone may be offered by the prescriber.

Due to price changes Prednisolone 5mg/5ml oral solution unit dose is no longer cheaper that soluble prednisolone and therefore soluble prednisolone replaces the unit dose solution for second line choice. GP practices will use the updated guidance for new patients and to review existing patients. We look forward to your continued support with this change in ensuring that patients receive consistent messages. For further details please see  the attached position statement.


01) AMOXICILLIN to AMOXIL® switch (no attachment)

Herts Valleys CCG needs to deliver savings in prescribing. As you may be aware, currently Amoxil® capsules (250 and 500mg strengths) are significantly cheaper than Amoxicillin capsules. Therefore, Herts Valleys CCG have agreed with all GPs in Hertfordshire to start recommending Amoxil® brand from 7th June 2017. The timing of this switch is aligned with a similar piece of work being undertaken from that date in E&N Herts CCG.


02) SPIRIVA® HANDIHALER® TO BRALTUS ZONDA® switch (no attachment)

In accordance with Herts Valleys CCG local incentive scheme (LIS) for 2017/2018, a rise in the prescribing of Braltus Zonda® (a branded generic of Spiriva® HandiHaler®) is anticipated. To support patients during this switch, a leaflet has been designed for pharmacies to hand-out (accessed via Patients who are switched from Spiriva® HandiHaler® to Braltus Zonda® would be eligible for the ‘New Medicines Service’ (NMS), provided there a clear clinical need for it.


03)  ALZAIN®  to GENERIC PREGABALIN switch (no attachment)



Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG)’s Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) work stream for 2017-18, aims to deliver savings in prescribing through promoting clinical and cost effectiveness. Through some extensive scoping work involving looking at successful switches implemented by other CCGs, new switches have been identified to assist GP practices in delivering prescribing savings. Below details the latest drug switches that will take place in GP practices in HVCCG (this is in addition to any previously agreed switches for the 2016-17).
HVCCG continues to support the increased use of generic medicines in a way that is appropriate for patients, recognising that there are still some more cost savings to be made in this area. In a small number of cases, a branded generic might be promoted.

Cost-Effective Prescribing – Commencing April 2017

REDUCED used of INCREASED use of
Branded Generic
 Lyrica® and pregabalin (All strengths ) capsules  Alzain® (All strengths )capsules
(Licensed indication only)
 Spiriva® Handihaler (tiotropium)  Braltus® (Zonda device) and Spiriva® Respimat


Brands to Generic

 Brands  Generics

HVCCG GP practices will be implementing these changes from April 2017. Our previous experience with similar workstreams shows that it takes approximately two months before the change in prescription is dispensed. We trust this information will help you with your stock holding for these products. We look forward to your continued support with these changes in ensuring that patients receive consistent messages.
These changes have gone through extensive process including reviewing for supply, price guarantee, availability, strengths and formulations. Copies of a patient letter and position statement will be available on our public website shortly: .


  • Co-proxamol November 2016

The Pharmacy and Medicines Optimisation Team has circulated by email a letter from David Buckle, Medical Director HVCCG, highlighting and reinforcing HVCCG’s current position with regards to co-proxamol prescribing. This letter has been circulated to all GP practices in HVCCG and is being sent to  pharmacies for information only.