Patients continue to suffer widespread problems including distress and clinical problems arising out of medicine supply shortages in the UK, and pharmacists continue to spend too much time on trying to source medicines. Those are the headline points of a Pharmacy Voice survey of 106 pharmacies. One quarter of the pharmacies had six or more delays a week, with each pharmacist spending two weeks in dealing with supply chain issues over a two-month period. Patients suffered inconvenience in 44% of cases of delay, distress from one fifth of the delayed cases and one-eighth of the cases had a clinical effect. The results of the survey reflect a Chemist + Druggist survey from about a year ago.
Paul Gershlick, a Partner and Head of Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences at Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP, comments: “This survey shows that in a year nothing has improved. Patients are still suffering. The All Party Pharmacy Group had sought to put pressure on the Government to address the issue with an enquiry and report published in May, but the Government’s response to the report is that it is still carefully considering the APPG’s recommendations. I agree with the APPG that the problem cannot wait.”
Pharmacy Voice said the level of patient distress reported was “intolerable”. It said that the patient experience was not acceptable. The British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers has said that stock shortages are as damaging and time-consuming as ever and that the APPG pressure has not changed anything from the Government.
Meanwhile, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), which represents many big pharma suppliers and who some blame for not supplying enough medicines in the UK as some can be supplied at a higher price in other countries, has defended its position and claimed that it already supplies 15-30% above the UK market’s needs. It also attacked a small number of pharmacists for causing the problem by their export practices. It said that even further oversupply would just encourage the “rogue pharmacists” to continue their practice. The ABPI referred to one instance where a manufacturer had received orders for a five month period that represented 26 years’ worth of the UK requirement.
In answer to the ABPI’s claims, Pharmacy Voice added that there were a number of causes to the problem and the supply chain should work together to tackle the issue.
Paul Gershlick added: “Ultimately, nothing has changed. The same arguments and positions have been highlighted by each of the industry groups as previously. They all say the same thing: they put patient care first but someone else has caused the problem. If the industry is really concerned to find a solution, the different parties all need to come together. Meanwhile, until they do, further real people’s lives are affected.”
Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP held a seminar on the issue in June, at which the APPG chair, the Rt Hon Kevin Barron MP spoke and answered several questions. To see that, click here: http://www.youtube.com/user/mablawuk?feature=results_main.