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Medicine supply shortages now worse than ever, says Janet Morrison


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The number of products in short supply has doubled in the past two years,  affecting treatments for various conditions 

Pharmacists have expressed concerns about severe shortage of medicines in the NHS, which is putting lives at risk.

Unpublished figures obtained by The Guardian have shown that the number of products in short supply has doubled in the past two years.

The report highlighted short supply of treatments for various conditions including epileptic seizures, cancer, schizophrenia, and diabetes.

A few days back, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) informed healthcare professionals that supply of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs), which are used to treat type 2 diabetes, continues to be limited and is not likely to return to normal until at least the end of 2024.

Clinicians were instructed to only prescribe the antidiabetes drugs for licensed indications, and avoid prescribing for weight loss to conserve existing stock for patients with T2DM.

In November 2023, the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) had revealed that 111 products were facing supply issues, the highest on record and more than double since the start of 2022.

In a statement shared with the newspaper, Janet Morrison, CEO of Community Pharmacy England (CPE) said: “Pharmacy teams have been struggling to get hold of prescription medicines for many months but the problem is now worse than ever.”

“It has become worryingly normal to see hundreds of medicines affected by pricing and other issues every month, with problems now a daily occurrence for pharmacies.

“The instability is putting operational pressures on pharmacy teams, financial pressures on pharmacy businesses, and for patients it means worrying delays.”

Last year, CPE surveyed people working in pharmacies and 87 per cent of the respondents said that their patients’ health was being put a risk due to medicine supply issues.

Janet cited a combination of factors for medicines supply issues, including Brexit, the ongoing war in Ukraine, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and broader economic instability.

“The NHS and Government need to step in to stabilise the UK medicines supply chain,” she stated.

To address the problem, Janet suggested a “full strategic review of medicines supply in England” and to empower pharmacists to use their knowledge to make “simple changes to medicines where this can speed up supply of medicines safely.”

“This step will help to alleviate this critical situation for both pharmacies and the communities they serve,” she added.



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