PHARMACIES have warned of shortages of every major type of medicine – leaving patients desperate for lifesaving drugs.

Treatments for depression, high blood pressure, diabetes and epilepsy are among those running low, a major investigation reveals.

 Pharmacies have warned they are suffering shortages in every major medicine
Pharmacies have warned they are suffering shortages in every major medicineCredit: Alamy

Chemists say they are “on a knife-edge” and struggling to fulfil prescriptions for “angry and desperate” customers nationwide.

The crisis has seen GPs flooded with demands for follow-up appointments from patients in need of a script for alternative treatment.

In some cases, doctors have been forced to write generic prescriptions that allow pharmacies to supply any available suitable drug.

But these may be less effective than the preferred medication or have undesirable side-effects, medics warn.

A poll of 402 pharmacies by trade magazine Chemist and Druggist identified shortages in all 36 classes of drugs in the past six months.

Hormone replacement therapy drugs were most commonly in short supply, with 84 per cent struggling to source them.

Some 67 per cent of pharmacy staff saw shortages of contraceptives and 58 per cent experienced supply issues of antiepileptic drugs.

Shortages are thought to have been caused by production issues at factories and stockpiling by patients ahead of Brexit.

‘ON KNIFE-EDGE’

Some women have taken to importing HRT patches from abroad.

And charities have warned a lack of contraceptives could lead to a rise in unwanted pregnancies.

One respondent to the survey said: “Our job role has changed into medicine sourcing, rather than advising.”

Another admitted the stress of trying to find medicines had made them hand in their notice after 35 years as a pharmacist.

READ  'Multiple medicines' side-effect risk for over-65s

And another revealed their pharmacy team is “barely coping”, adding: “We are on a knife-edge.”

Dr Farah Jameel, from the British Medical Association, said urgent action must be taken to stem worsening shortages.

She added: “Practices often won’t know that a drug is in short supply until patients return from the pharmacy.

“These extra GP appointments can dramatically add to their already burgeoning workload – as well as distressing patients by delaying their treatment.

‘ANGRY & DESPERATE CUSTOMERS’

“Where an alternative drug is needed, GPs will write a generic prescription for a pharmacist to then check what they have in stock.

“But the risk is that these other drugs might not have the same desired effect, further delaying a patient’s treatment journey.”

Robbie Turner, from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “We know that sourcing medicines can take up a lot of a pharmacists’ time and can cause anxiety for patients.

“Medicine shortages are an increasing problem and pharmacists work extremely hard day in day out to get patients the medicines they need.

“Of course pharmacists would prefer to be spending more time getting on with talking to patients rather than talking to suppliers.”

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, from the Royal College of GPs, said shortages are hugely frustrating for medical staff and worrying for patients.

She added: “There could be many different reasons for current drug shortages, and it is unhelpful to speculate.”

Mark Lyonette, from the National Pharmacy Association, said: “Pharmacists can spend hours a day sourcing medicines and the time would be better spent on patient care.”

The Department of Health said: “We fully understand the concerns of those who require medications in their daily lives and want to reassure them we are doing everything appropriate so they can access the medicines they need.

“We have no evidence to suggest current or previous supply issues are linked to Brexit.

“The department is working with partners in industry and the health and care system to help ensure the supply of medicines and medical products remains uninterrupted after October 31, whatever the circumstances.”

Boots could close shops after shock profit warning by US parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance







READ SOURCE

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here