The lack of detail from the Government on its work to mitigate stock shortages is cause for concern, says The Pharmacist’s editor Beth Kennedy

The Pharmacist has never shied away from holding those in power to account on issues that really matter to our readers, and stock shortages are no exception.

The latest part of our #WarOnShortages campaign aims to increase the Government’s openness around shortages; what’s causing them, what pharmacists can do to mitigate the issues they cause and, most importantly, what the powers that be are doing to try and fix the problem.

So far, our fight has seen us repeatedly press the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for details on what it is doing about the issue. But – as our reporter Léa Legraien found when she took a closer look at the supply chain – information has not been forthcoming.

This lack of transparency has always been an annoyance to me. But now that stock shortages have affected me personally, the reality scares me.

After a nasty reaction to a wasp sting recently, my mother went to her GP, and was prescribed two Epipens: one to stave off anaphylaxis were she to be stung again and another to use if the first one wasn’t effective.

But when she went to collect her prescription from the pharmacy, her second Epipen wasn’t available. She, like so many patients, assumed that the pharmacy was just behind in ordering medication. But, as I explained
to her, stock shortages occur indiscriminate of medical conditions, whatever their severity.

Patients need to know why their local pharmacists can’t get certain medicines and GPs need to listen to pharmacists when they request alternative prescriptions. So to help with this, The Pharmacist has developed a stock shortages toolkit, giving you some handy tips on managing the effects of supply chain issues.

But the Government must also be more open about its work on the supply chain. I wonder how many of them, just like me, have had loved ones affected by stock shortages. The real question is that, if not this, what will prompt them to be more transparent?