Part of The Pharmacist’s series of case studies on how stock shortages are affecting ordinary pharmacists, a West Midlands superintendent pharmacist explains the impact on her pharmacy
Olutayo Arikawe, superintendent pharmacist, The Priory Community Pharmacy, Dudley
‘The shortages are having a big impact on our workload at the moment and we sometimes have to pay more than the Drug Tariff for some products to ensure our patients get their medication at the right time.
‘The staff are constantly on the phone sourcing drugs and calling GP surgeries to change the medication to an available product. We spend at least one hour a day sourcing medicines. This time could be spent supporting patients and providing services. We also spend time contacting patients and GP surgeries about alternate products.
‘It’s not only the pharmacy that is affected but the patients too. It can be frustrating for them when we finally get their medication changed but the new drug is no longer available.
‘I once requested a patient change from the Latanoprost/Timolol combination to the single drugs as they were both available at that time, only to receive the prescription and finding out the Latanoprost was out of stock.
‘We now have to make more calls to different wholesalers and actually had to increase the number of wholesalers we are sourcing medication from.
‘Sometimes we also have to call the manufacturers directly without success at times, as they would rather deal with the wholesalers. Sometimes we call other pharmacies but we understand that they’re also under a lot of pressure – both from the funding and staff cuts.
‘The shortages have definitely increased our spending. It also takes time to explain to patients why we can’t supply a drug that is very essential to them.
‘The delivery driver also has to make return journeys to patients when we can’t supply all the medications at once.
‘How many more losses can community pharmacy take? The only solution will be for the medication to be readily available.’