The Government’s plan to stockpile six weeks’ worth of medicines could result in the public panicking and lead to restricted access to drug supplies, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has warned.

RPS president Ash Soni told The Pharmacist yesterday (11 September) that the Government’s initiative to have an extra six weeks of medicine stock might create ‘an emphasis for panic’ and push patients to stockpile, resulting in difficulties in accessing drugs.

Last month, the Government asked pharmaceutical companies to hold a further six weeks’ supply on top of their usual buffer stocks, in the event of a no-deal Brexit. It has, however, advised community pharmacies to not stockpile additional medicines beyond their usual stock levels.


Market access ‘concerns’


Although Mr Soni welcomed the Government’s plan, he argued it is ‘difficult’ to stockpile a vast amount of medicines.

He added: ‘It’s a good thing that somebody is thinking about what needs to be done to make sure we have sufficient stock for the UK market.

‘[But] one of the things that happen, when you [do] that, is that you create a whole emphasis for panic, and if you create panic it’s likely that what you’re talking about, as being a potential, becomes reality.

‘That will have real implications on how long the stock will last. It’s all very well [to say] ‘you have to have stocks for six weeks’ but if you suddenly got in a position where the public have more concerns they themselves may suddenly start to look at increasing what they’re holding. [Then] that six-week [stockpile] doesn’t last six weeks but only four weeks.’


Potential prices increase


Echoing his comments, Mike Hewitson, superintendent pharmacist at Bedminster Pharmacy in Dorset, said he is concerned patients will start to ‘worry’ and buy more medicines, which could lead to price pikes.

He continued: ‘My big concern is that through the autumn, we’ll start to see prices increase and sporadic stock shortages on particular products.

‘Nobody necessarily thought about the psychology of patients. We’ve seen news footage of patients with diabetes being concerned about insulin supplies and consequently we might start seeing patient behaviour change, which means they could start to order an excess of medicines and stockpile themselves.’