Asthma inhalers continue to be out of stock at some wholesalers because of ‘a dramatic increase’ in demand for the medicine as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Manufacturers are struggling to replenish their wholesalers with new asthma inhalers quickly enough, which is causing the delays in stock.
But the Government has stressed suppliers are still able to make items available.
Pharmaceutical company Chiesi, which produces Clenil Modulite and Fostair inhalers among others, is one of the companies where its wholesale partners are experiencing ‘out-of-stock situations’.
It said it is ‘working closely with all stakeholders involved to respond to this unprecedented increase in demand as best and as efficiently as possible’.
Chiesi said it is releasing stock on a weekly basis at average demand levels to wholesalers.
It stressed that healthcare professionals should not write prescriptions for multiple inhalers, but should stick to monthly repeat prescriptions.
Last month Pulse reported there were delays in the supply of materials for Chiesi’s Clenil Modulite 100mcg pressurised metered dose inhalers, meaning it could not guarantee uninterrupted supply of the corticosteroid inhaler. The issues affecting the supply of materials for the product have now been resolved.
In a statement, a Chiesi spokesperson said: ‘As the UK continues to be in lockdown, we are seeing a vastly larger number of prescriptions being filled than usual and we have seen a dramatic increase in inhaler demand.
‘This is leading to our wholesaler partners experiencing out of stock situations whilst they are waiting for a replenishment delivery from Chiesi.’
The spokesperson added: ‘We expect continued stock deliveries over the coming weeks and months, and we have good stock levels of all our products. We can confirm that production of all our products continues uninterrupted at all of our manufacturing sites.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We know how distressing shortages can be for patients and we are doing everything we can to ensure patients continue to access safe and effective medicines.
‘We are aware there has been a significant increase in demand across a number of inhaler presentations and we are working with suppliers to ensure supplies continue to remain available.
‘Health care professionals and patients are reminded to only prescribe and order what they need during this time to ensure that all patients can continue to access their medicines.’