Over 81 per cent respondents believe the medicines shortages would get worse. Photo: iStock

Pharmacists say that about 21 per cent prescription drugs have suffered from shortages in the last three months, while a vast majority of them feel that supply issues have increased in the past year.

A recent Pharmacists Defence Association (PDA) survey, conducted between August 22 to September 27, saw responses from over 1,000 pharmacists who were asked to give their opinion on problems with medicines supply and the possible impact of Brexit.

More than 90 per cent of those surveyed felt an increase in medicine shortages over the last 12 months. A total of 62 per cent respondents said they spent an hour or more every day trying to sort out problems caused by medicine shortages.

Over 81 per cent respondents believed the medicines shortages would get worse, with 55 per cent believing they would get ‘much worse’.

Around a quarter of them said they were aware of patient harm as a result of shortages.

Pharmacists said patients sometimes blamed them and the pharmacy staff, which they thought adversely affected their morale.

“Can’t wait to retire. After 40 years in the job, I have never before felt so down, I now get shouted at daily by customers. Not pleasant,” PDA quoted a pharmacist as saying.

While one pharmacist said: “I have no confidence that Serious Shortage Protocols would be helpful in managing potential Brexit shortages,” another added: “A lot of shortages are the result of wholesalers keeping insufficient stock. They rely on a just in time delivery with little or no backup.”

Respondents of the survey suggested wholesalers and manufacturers post bulletins of suspected future stock shortages to the prescribers, and also called for a separate website to show what drugs are available and which ones are not.

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