Part of The Pharmacists series of case studies on how stock shortages are affecting ordinary pharmacists, a Welsh contractor explains the impact they are having on his pharmacies

Paul Mayberry, independent contractor, Mayberry Pharmacy, South East Wales

‘The main issue for me has been around the monopoly of the supply of drugs. Some manufacturers have gone to a solo wholesaler, which means I can only buy stock from this wholesaler and I can only buy a limited amount of their products because there is an arbitrary quota set on what I can have - regardless of the number of prescriptions I get in.

‘The month before last, my local surgery decided to change to a particular brand of insulin, so I ended up dispensing more of one of the solo wholesaler’s insulins than we’ve done previously - but I couldn’t get the stock in because I’d ordered more than our quota.

‘I was told to send over our patient medication records and they would then consider whether they would increase the quota next month - at which point I had an argument with them. I had prescriptions in the pharmacy waiting to go out, I couldn’t get the stock from anywhere else, what was I supposed to do? I needed the increase straight away.

‘One of the operatives said I should send the patients down the roads to Boots. There may not be a Boots or another pharmacy nearby - some of my pharmacies are in quite remote areas so patients either have to travel a distance to get their medication or go without until such time that this wholesaler decides they are going to supply a community pharmacy with the medication being prescribed by a local GP. I think it’s absolutely disgraceful.

‘The other issue is the generics shortages. There are dozens and dozens of drugs now that go short and the price goes up to above the drug tariff price. Legally I need to supply the product in a timely manner to the patient. Morally I can’t allow that patient to go without their medication, so I end up buying drugs in at a price that’s higher than the Government will repay me. I will have lost thousands of pounds across each of our branches.

‘This is at a time when we’ve also got cuts in pharmacy funding and category M, which means there are three different ways we’re losing money. It’s putting pharmacists under a lot of pressure and there are some that have gone to the wall because of it.’

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