Part of The Pharmacist’s series of case studies on how stock shortages are affecting ordinary pharmacists, a Bristol contractor explains what effect they are having on his business

Chris Howland-Harris, owner, Ashgrove Pharmacy, Bristol

‘Shortages have increased our workload — with approximately three hours a week spent looking for alternative sources of supply and contacting manufacturers and distributors for information as well as doctors for replacement prescriptions.

‘It has also given rise to concern and anxiety among patients, and reduced trust in the medicines supply and dispensing process.

‘We are frequently dispensing at a loss as the shortages have meant that prices charged exceed the Drug Tariff reimbursement price.

The Drug Tariff price, especially category M, is being reduced, which contributes to the shortages as manufacturers can’t match the reimbursement price.

‘Losses are hard to quantify, but I would estimate that we have lost between £200 to £500 per week due to shortages. These vary, especially when expensive generics – such as Eplerenone, Bicalutamide, Olanzapine, Mirtazapine or Levetiracetam – are omitted in the concessions.

‘Concessionary prices from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) are often not agreed until long after we dispense medicines and even then only two-thirds are granted a price concession.

‘We need a national solution now.’

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