Medication ShortagesPublished on: 19 November 2019
A survey of pharmacists found there has been a shortage in every major group of medicines in recent months.
A UK wide survey of 402 community pharmacies found a number of common medications to include HRT, contraceptives and anti-epileptic drugs among others are in short supply.
The UK Government announced a ban on some drug exports in order to protect access to those drugs for NHS patients. The restriction will stop wholesalers selling some medicines outside of the country for a higher price. The drugs on the export list include a number of HRT drugs, adrenaline pens for severe allergies, hepatitis B vaccines and a number of contraceptive drugs. Approximately 360,000 prescriptions of HRT are dispensed every month.
Among the shortage is antidepressant drug ‘Fluoxetine’ and pharmacists have been authorised to dispense alternative drugs without going back to the GP for this specific product.
The shortage of medications can also cause confusion with patients receiving different brands each month or a completely different drug as substitute.
A shortage in medication is also meaning that the cost of the medication is increasing which is adding to the financial strain of Clinical Commissioning Groups as GP practices struggle to keep within prescribing budgets.
The British Medical Association have said there are a number of reasons why medication shortages happen but it can have a serious effect on how quickly patients receive appropriate treatment. The shortage is also increasing the pressure on GP practices. Dr Farah Jameel of the BMA has said that "Practices often won't know that a drug is in short supply until patients return from the pharmacy and these extra GP appointments can dramatically add to their already burgeoning workload - as well as distressing patients."
The Department of Health and Social Care has instructed that patients should continue to order their repeat prescriptions but not ask for more medicines than they need.
If your health has been adversely affected due to a shortage in medication then feel free to contact our specalist clinical negligence team to see if we are able to assist you.