More UK patients affected by drug shortages in 2012

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The number of UK patients affected by shortages in brand-name medicines has increased during 2012, according to an online survey carried out by pharmacists’ organization Chemist+Druggist (C+D).

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A total of 370 pharmacists responded to C+D’s Stocks Survey 2012, with 57% of them saying that they had seen the health of at least one of their patients suffer as a result of stock shortages during 2012, up from 45% in 2011.

The survey revealed that 16% of pharmacists believed that the health of more than 20 of their patients had suffered because of drug shortages in 2012. While 6% of pharmacists said that the health of more than 30 of their patients had suffered.

The majority (94%) of pharmacists admitted that at some point during 2012 they had been forced to turn patients away empty-handed because they were unable to source a prescribed drug. While 42% of pharmacists said they had to turn away up to five patients a month because they could not obtain their medication and 27% said they had to contact physicians more than 30 times during 2012 to ask them to change prescriptions.

Drug shortages in the UK are not getting any better despite the efforts of groups, such as C+D and the All-Party Pharmacy Group (APPG). The APPG published a report in May 2012 investigating medicine shortages, which found that ‘four years on medicines shortages continue unabated and are causing patient harm’. The report also found that the shortages were ‘being caused principally by the export of medicines intended for NHS patients to other EU countries’. The APPG is calling for the UK Government to act as there is scope within European legislation for it to exempt certain goods if their free movement threatens public health.

Independent Pharmacy Federation Chief Executive, Ms Claire Ward said the situation was getting ‘harder every day’. She added that ‘The Department of Health needs to wake up and recognize it has got a problem. It is not going away, it is getting greater.’

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Source: APPG, Chemist+Druggist

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