May 22, 2013
South Wales Central Assembly Member Eluned Parrott reported that a new prescription distribution designed to reduce medicine waste "severely" compromises the lives of HIV-infected people. The new system requires HIV patients in Cardiff and Vale to go to a hospital pharmacy during working hours to pick up antiretroviral medicines every 28 days. According to Parrott, other health boards allow patients to get enough medications for six months to a year. Health Minister Mark Drakeford stated that the 28-day system aimed to reduce "a substantial risk of waste" associated with longer prescriptions.
HIV-infected people are under no obligation to disclose their illness, but taking regular time off to pick up medicines could cause problems due to ongoing stigma and discrimination against people with HIV. To preserve anonymity, one Cardiff patient has opted to travel 300 miles round-trip to pick up his medicine in London. Stable HIV-infected patients see their consulting physician only twice a year and do not need a monthly consultation for medications, according to the Cardiff patient.
The All-Wales Medicines Strategy Group recommended the 28-day system, but urged "discretion" for some medicines and individuals. Darrell Baker, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board's service director for pharmacy and medicines management, stated that the board was working with patients to find alternative delivery methods, including sending medications to a home or work address, a "local sorting office," post office, or other prearranged address. He added that the board would consider providing medications for longer periods of time.