A specialist pharmaceutical software firm which helped alert the NHS to a critical shortage of vital medicines during the COVID crisis has been honoured with a top award for its work.
RX-Info has been presented with the David Samways Award by the Procurement and Distribution Interest Group, part of the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists.
It is the first time the award, presented at the Hilton Metropole, Birmingham, on Thursday November 2, has gone to an organisation outside the NHS and the first time that an organisation rather than an individual has been honoured in this way.
Exeter-based RX-Info, which marks 20 years in business next month (December), develops computer software for the NHS which allows medicines’ usage to be closely monitored for quality, safety and cost.
During the pandemic it monitored and reported on the surge in the use of a vital medicine used to treat patients with COVID in critical care. Because of demand created by the pandemic a year’s supply of the drug noradrenaline was used up in just six weeks.
A software programme developed by RX-Info identified the potential crisis and triggered the Government to order extra supplies of noradrenaline from the United States, saving many lives, preventing a ‘critical stock out’, which would have had disastrous consequences for the most vulnerable patients in the system.
Colin Richman, the founder and company director of RX-Info, said he was extremely privileged to receive the David Samways Award on behalf of his staff.
“This is an award voted for by people who lead this kind of work on behalf of the NHS across Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England,” he said. “The award is made in recognition of a development that fundamentally improves the way things are done. I received the award, but it is given to RX-Info as a team.”
The company, with 11 members of staff, is based in Exeter Science Park and was set up by Colin, who trained as a pharmacist and worked in that role at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital for nine years.
After leaving the NHS he spent a year-and-a-half working in Sweden before returning to the UK in December 2003 to establish RX-Info. The company works exclusively in support of the NHS, providing expert data to healthcare professionals in primary and secondary care using computer software it has developed.
RX-Info and its medicines’ monitoring software was praised in a report in May 2022 by leading pharmacist Richard Hey, a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and former Chief Pharmacist for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.
He evaluated how medicines data, designed and supplied by RX-Info, was used in NHS hospitals both when the UK left the EU and during the COVID pandemic. He concluded that the experience of both Brexit and the pandemic demonstrated the need for sophisticated stock monitoring and forecasting systems available to medicines procurement specialists at all levels of the NHS.
The David Samways Award is named in honour of David who was a procurement specialist working in the South West of England, who passed away in his 50s.