Drug shortages rising sharply year on year, says AIMp
The number of commonly prescribed medicines affected by shortages has almost doubled in the past year, the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies has said.
AIMp provided Channel 4 News with a list of 43 products that were affected by shortages in March of this year, a sharp rise on the 25 products it recorded in March 2021.
In a report last night, Channel 4 said that while shortages of HRT lines are dominating headlines currently, the problem extends to medicines in other categories, with drugs for pain relief, epilepsy, antibiotics all affected by supply issues, in addition to warfarin.
Contributing factors include manufacturing issues and shortages of raw ingredients.
In the case of HRT, rising demand has been a major factor. Health minister Maria Caulfield told Channel 4: “The Government don’t make HRT so they are dependent ton suppliers and manufacturers and I’ve met with them.
“They’ve said 2 things to me: firstly that the demand for HRT is really increasing, which is something we want, we want women going to see their GP, we want GPs prescribing HRT.
“The second thing is Covid,” she said, explaining that the pandemic has disrupted supply chains and made some ingredients difficult to source.
AIMp chief executive Leyla Hannbeck said pharmacists and their teams are spending a “significant” amount of their working day tackling shortages and trying to ensure patients get an appropriate treatment.
She said shortages can be unpredictable: “It can be weeks, it can be months… it’s hard for us when we don’t know when a certain medicine is going to become available so we can advise our patients accordingly.”
Asked what impact the Government’s plans to appoint a new HRT tsar will have, Ms Hannbeck said there needs to be “better communication with suppliers and manufacturers,” particularly at early stages so rising levels of demand can be anticipated and planned for.
The PSNC issued a report yesterday in which it said that pharmacy teams are increasingly being subjected to abuse from patients who are frustrated with perceived delays in receiving their prescription.