• Sunday, June 23, 2024


Drug shortages putting patients’ lives at risk: Survey

The patients are being told that only a part of their prescription can be dispensed and they need to come later to collect the rest of their medicines

Picture for representation (iStock)

By: Shajil Kumar

Drug shortages in England have worsened and is even putting the health of patients at risk, says Community Pharmacy England (CPE), a trade body of pharmacists.

Its survey of 6,100 pharmacies and 2,000 staff found that 99 per cent are encountering shortages once a week, while 72 per cent face multiple issues on a daily basis. Nearly 79 per cent of pharmacy team members said that patient health was being put at risk.

The patients too appear to be anxious and restless. Nearly 97 per cent pharmacy staff surveyed said they encountered patient frustration, and 84 per cent said they experienced aggression from patients because of medicine supply issues.

The situation is so dire that pharmacists are increasingly resorting to issuing “owings” to patients. They are being told that only a part of their prescription can be dispensed and they need to return later to collect the rest of their medicines.

“Patients with a wide range of clinical and therapeutic needs are being affected on a daily basis and this is going far beyond inconvenience, leading to frustration, anxiety and affecting their health,” said Janet Morrison, CPE’s chief executive.

William Pett from Healthwatch England warned that the shortages could lead to “rationing and desperate instances of ‘pharmacy bingo’, where patients must travel from pharmacy to pharmacy looking for stock.”

Recent months have seen key medicines for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, ADHD and epilepsy becoming unavailable. Last year saw shortages of HRT, adrenalines and antibiotics, The Guardian reports.

James Davies, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s director for England, told the daily that drug manufacturers, wholesalers and suppliers needed to collaborate more closely with ministers and the NHS “to ensure a more stable supply of medicines”.

However, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told Sky News that there are around 14,000 licenced medicines and the ‘overwhelming majority’ are in good supply. “Supply issues can arise for a wide range of reasons and are not specific to the UK.”

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