Two NHS pilot sites for a new e-prescribing system have had to suspend their trials because Theriak ehf, the Icelandic company behind the software, has been placed in administration.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have suspended trials of Theriak e-prescribing and medicines management three years after they began.
There is now an uncertain future for the software, which is offered by CIS Oncology in the UK.
Belfast-based CIS Oncology, which has more than 100 NHS customers using its well-regarded ChemoCare oncology e-prescribing system, says it hopes to buy the software assets from administrators and then re-start the NHS trials.
Existing ChemoCare customers are unaffected. Tony Pegg, chief executive of CIS Oncology, told eHealth Insider that Theriak was a wholly separate company, the collapse of which did not jeopardise his company.
“We are not in any financial difficulties and are entirely separate from Theriak, with whom we had an agreement to market their product in the UK.”
Pegg said his priority was to reassure customers, to support the two trusts that were trialling the product, and to enable them to resume their trials in the near future, if possible.
“We are talking to the administrators about purchasing the software assets. We will then hopefully be able to try to implement Theriak in the UK. One possibility is that we could partner with a third party.”
Pegg added that there had been no choice about suspending the trials. “We haven’t got access to the code and it’s unsupported.”
CIS Oncology has spent almost four years working with NHS Connecting for Health and the two pilot trusts in evaluating the e-prescribing software for introduction to the NHS. The product is already in use in Holland and Scandinavia.
Dr Steven Dean, intensive care consultant and lead clinician on the e-prescribing trial at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, told EHI: “We’re very disappointed as we have been working with CIS Oncology for some time.
“We use the chemotherapy product, which works very well. We were just at the point we could see the product we wanted.”
Asked why the trust had chosen to anglicise a product rather than go with one already in the market, Dr Dean said: “We already had a good relationship with CIS Oncology, who wanted a partner to introduce Theriak into the UK.
"We saw that as an opportunity to get something more tailored to our needs.”
Dr Dean said that his trust will continue to monitor the situation. “It’s still one of our key goals to introduce e-prescribing in Leeds. This is a bit of a set-back for us. We will have to see what situation is when the dust settles.”
He added: “I’ve seen a lot of e-prescribing products and the actual interface and the way the system worked was very appealing. You could see the potential in there.”
CIS Oncology brought Theriak to the UK following a national e-prescribing benchmarking process that the company undertook with CfH, the agency then in charge of NHS IT.
Following CfH feedback, the company spent a year on further product development, after which it was able to approach Leeds as its first UK site. The trust signed a contract with the company at the end of December 2009.