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Exclusive: paracetamol and ibuprofen the latest items out of stock as wholesalers struggle

By Isabel Shaw

10 Mar 2020

Pharmacy wholesalers have run out of paracetamol and ibuprofen leaving community pharmacies struggling to restock, The Pharmacist has learnt.

Several community pharmacists told The Pharmacist today (10 March) that they have been unable to get hold of paracetamol and ibuprofen from main-line pharmaceutical wholesalers, due to soaring sales in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

One also reported that he had been unable to source supplies of Calpol after selling out in his pharmacy.

At least three wholesalers – Phoenix, Alliance Healthcare and AAH Pharmaceuticals – have depleted their stocks of the common painkillers, The Pharmacist was told.

Many are turning to short-line wholesalers to replenish supplies of the drugs but are finding the prices inflated – in some cases to twice their usual cost. 

Only last week, three wholesalers – Lexon UK, McKesson UK and DE Group – confirmed they were out of hand sanitsier and were be unable to supply community pharmacies for the foreseeable future.

The Pharmacist also reported that some of the UK’s commonest drugs, including paracetamol, could be in short supply because India has limited exports due to coronavirus.

An Alliance Healthcare spokesperson told The Pharmacist: ‘There has been a significant increase in the demand for products such as paracetamol and ibuprofen over the last few weeks, which has caused some supply constraints.

‘In line with our operating standards, we continue to work closely with suppliers and in accordance with any government guidance and will replenish stocks as soon as received to help maintain a consistent distribution of products and ensure patient safety wherever possible.’

A spokesperson from AAH Pharmaceuticals said: ‘There are a number of paracetamol products in the market and we have varying levels of stock of each.

‘We are doing everything we can to ensure we provide a consistent supply of medicines, including sourcing from multiple providers, and putting commitments in place with manufacturers to secure supply.

‘Our priority is to make sure that everyone has access to the medication that they need, when they need it. We understand the effect that supply challenges can have on our customers and patients, especially as concerns around coronavirus increase.

‘We already have processes in place with our suppliers and manufacturers designed to help minimise the impact of shortages and ensure we are able to provide a consistent supply of critical products.’

Phoenix Medical Supplies has been approached for comment.

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