Redcar pharmacy denounces drug shortages

MEDICINE shortages in the North East are leading to increased levels of abuse directed at pharmacists by angry patients, it is claimed.

Staff at Dormanstown Pharmacy, in Redcar, have been hit by a nationwide shortage of a number of medicines, including HRT, popular brands like Calpol and Gaviscon and even paracetamol.

The Ennis Square Pharmacy team are spending more time trying to source medicines and also having to correct mistakes made with orders due to labor shortages in warehouses and depots.

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They said: “It creates extra work and stress for the pharmacy team, but it is ultimately the patient who suffers.

“Unable to receive the medications they need, many patients become angry and go after pharmacy staff directly.”

The spokesperson added: “Product supply across all industries has been impacted by rising raw material costs, labor resources, fuel and energy costs, and the pharmaceutical industry n is no different.

“Furthermore, we need to recognize the impact of Brexit on these rising costs.”

There are supply issues in various health areas including HRT, epilepsy, acne and contraception. Popular brands like Beechams, Calpol and Gaviscon are also affected, the pharmacy said.

Last month, a survey by the Pharmacy Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) found that 83% of pharmacies reported a significant increase in drug supply issues over the past year, leading to extra work and a additional stress for staff.

Two-thirds of respondents said drug supply chain issues happen daily, with 97% saying it leads to patient frustration.

Jasmine Shah, head of advice and support services at the National Pharmacy Association, said: “In recent years, drug shortages have become a daily reality for pharmacists across the UK. Due to the efforts of pharmacists to stock up on medications, patients usually get what they need on time, but this is not always possible.

“Pharmacists work hard to get people the medicines they need, when and where they need them.

“Sometimes that’s not possible and pharmacists find themselves on the receiving end of customer criticism for something beyond their control. Sometimes this even leads to customers verbally insulting pharmacy staff, which is never acceptable.

“As drug experts, pharmacists should have more flexibility to make point-of-care decisions to manage drug supply. This includes the power to change prescriptions or share drugs between pharmacies when it could help maintain supply.

“Our general advice to patients on regular medication is to make sure you order your repeat medications on time – before your current stock runs out – to give you the best chance of getting the medications you need without delaying the treatment.”

The government says temporary drug shortages are caused by a number of reasons, including manufacturing difficulties, regulatory issues and raw material supply issues, or problems with product distribution.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘We are doing everything we can to ensure people can continue to access the treatment they need.

“We have well-established procedures for dealing with drug shortages and are working closely with industry, the NHS and others to prevent shortages and resolve any issues as soon as possible.”

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