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Drug supply problems continue as sector contends with coronavirus

By Isabel Shaw

13 Mar 2020

Four more drugs are out of stock or in short supply, according to the latest PSNC updates published today (13 March).

Promazine 25mg and 50mg tablets – an antipsychotic – is anticipated to be out of stock until mid-April. 

The body also announced that the MAOI antidepressant Nardil (phenelzine sulfate) 15mg is in shortage for the unforeseeable future due to its sole manufacturer based in Japan experiencing temporary disruptions.

The re-supply date of Lorazepam 4mg/ml injection – which has been out of stock since early March – has been delayed until the 23 March. And Clonidine 25mcg tablets are in limited supply until the end of April.

Ongoing supply issues cannot be directly linked to the Covid-19 outbreak, but the possible link cannot be ruled out, the organisation added.

Gordon Hockey, PSNC Director of Operations and Support, said: ‘The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has well-established procedures to deal with medicine shortages and has already approached medicine suppliers to assess the impact that COVID-19 could have on the supply chain. In particular, DHSC has asked suppliers who still retain some of their EU exit stockpiles to hold onto these.

‘PSNC is keeping a close eye on the generic medicines (including paracetamol) affected by recent price hikes and is making applications to DHSC for price concessions in the usual way.

‘PSNC has also commenced discussions with DHSC on protection for pharmacies against sudden price rises and launched the Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Forum, providing an opportunity for information sharing with other pharmacy and supply chain bodies, DHSC and NHSE&I.’

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

Several community pharmacists then told The Pharmacist that they had 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.

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