The sector has taken to Twitter to confirm that medicine shortages are a major problem following a report in the media.
Responding to an article published today (18 January) on the BBC, which highlighted ‘a surge’ in medicine shortages, pharmacists responded and patients tweeted that they are currently struggling to get hold of certain drugs.
On Wednesday (16 January), pharmacy representative bodies including the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), called on the Government to ensure a continuous supply of medicines post-Brexit after the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal was voted down in Parliament.
The Pharmacist’s #WarOnShortages campaign highlighted the troubles contractors are going through as a result of persistent medicines shortages – including losing money and trying to reassure worried patients.
Increased medicine shortages
The BBC reported today that in December alone, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) granted 80 medicine price concessions – up from 45 compared to the number of concessions it granted in October.
Around a third (28) of these were among the most common 500 medicines prescribed. These included the high-blood pressure drug furosemide and the antidepressant fluoxetine.
Speaking to the BBC, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) president Ash Soni said that he has ‘never seen so many common drugs affected by shortages’.
He added: ‘The items are out of stock and unavailable. Patients are having to wait. We’re having to send some patients back to the GP to get a different prescription, because we just can’t fill them.’
Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians tweeted that they have not been able to dispense prescriptions due to some medicines being out of stock at a supplier level.
There are medicine supply shortages.
— Pharmacist Thorrun (@pharmthorrun) January 18, 2019
As a fellow indy we agree with our good friends @AllisonsChemist There are shortages and no it’s not ‘Scaremongering’ it’s fact. Yes there have always been shortages or a ‘manufacturer’ supply issue’. It’s now getting worse. We don’t have the luxury of being part of a big shed.
— Mills Pharmacy (@millsgosforth) January 18, 2019
We receive enquires almost daily regarding drug shortages. Can only imagine it will get worse if we have a no deal brexit. #brexit #pharmacy Pharmacists warn of a ‘surge’ in shortage of common medicines https://t.co/2cejp5Yt00
— Dan Hill (@dan_jhill) January 18, 2019
30% of my working week spent managing shortages – direct & indirect. Worse in hospitals. Now affecting community care. ABPI told to stockpile. NHS told not to. How will the land lie after March? #Brexit #rpsgb #abpi #pharmacy https://t.co/Z8f1m0m6kz
— David (@demonpharm) January 18, 2019
Some patients also reported difficulties in getting the medicines they need from their local pharmacy.
I totally feel like I’ve “#takenbackcontrol” this morning and enjoying my #BrexitDividend. I’m about to start ringing round pharmacies to see if they’ve got my medication in because there are shortages on a couple of prescriptions that I have. Overjoyed!#takingbackcontrol
— westy303 (@westy303808909) January 11, 2019
Currently battling a sinus infection. Had a 30min wait at pharmacy for prescription, during which time TWO people came in & were told there are currently shortages of the medications they need, so they’re being rationed.
“Already?” a lady asked.
Pharmacist, grimly: “Already.”
— Charles Thomson (@CEThomson) January 17, 2019
However, the NPA tweeted that ‘in spite of today’s news reports, for the most part people continue to get the medicines they need in good time, thanks to hard working pharmacists and GPs.’