Chemists concerned about drug shortfall
7th February 2019
PHARMACISTS have voiced concern over a shortfall in common medicines, including a range of off-the-shelf painkillers as well as prescription medicines.
More than 80 medicines are in short supply in the UK, nearly double the number than in October, which has forced the Department of Health to pay excess amounts for certain drugs.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said there was ‘a massive shortage and price spikes’ and local pharmacists have voiced their concern too, arguing that the issues are related to current wholesale practices but the problem could be exacerbated by the Brexit turmoil.
Ming Majoe, pharmacist at A.E. Hobbs, a chemist on Mount Pleasant road, explained the extent of the problem.
“It is a difficult issue. There’s been shortages in the market for a number of years that are nothing to do with Brexit.”
He said this sometimes leads pharmacists like himself to have to go back to GPs and suggest alternative medications.
“We either have to tell the patent to wait for new stocks, or if not, make a suggestion to the prescriber for an alternative product, meaning there is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing.
“It is a wholesaler problem. There are a number of national wholesalers and when one runs out then very quickly stocks from other wholesalers run out quickly too.
“I think it could be the nature of the ‘just in time’ scenario, where stocks are simply not kept, so any little hiccup in the supply chain causes a problem.”
With Brexit around the corner, the fear is that the problem could only get worse, especially if patients begin hoarding medicine.
“Even before Brexit we were facing challenges. The government advice is that suppliers should keep a buffer of stocks, just in case.
“But one thing that will worsen the situation is if patients are so worried they cannot get medications that they start to stock up, which will only add to the problems. We must avoid a ‘siege mentality’ as it will not do people any favours.”