Medicines Shortage Leaves Public Without Treatment
In the UK, could a no deal Brexit leave many without the medicines they need? Are we on the verge of a large scale medicines crisis?
Pharmacists have said that they are struggling to obtain many common medicines including antidepressants and painkillers. Because of this, many patients are complaining of delays in getting ahold of drugs and pharmacists paying more than they should for common medicines. As this news surfaces, the BBC has found that there has been a big rise in the number of drugs on the “shortage of supply” list for England. There are 80 medicines in such short supply that the Department of Health has agreed to pay a premium for them.
This is up from 45 in October although there was a spike in November two years ago. There are a few reasons as to why this situation has occurred but there are now concerns that unknown end to leaving the EU will hold and has the potential to make the situation worse. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has said that there were a “massive shortage and price spikes”.
There is now a worry that all of this could affect some pharmacies capability to deliver medicines and cost the National Health Service more. Patients and pharmacies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales also seem to be experiencing similar shortages.
How widespread is this issue?
It isn’t easy to pin down what exactly is running short but the industry of England uses a list form the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee. The list shows drugs which are in short supply and for which ones the NHS has agreed to pay a higher price for, but this is only temporary.
Looking into the data, analysts can see that the number of medicines on the list has grown six-fold in three years.
In fact, during this time period, the peak was in November 2017 but recently there has been a slight surge and figures for December which show that it is approaching that level once more.
What this means for you
As far as we can tell, most people should be able to get their prescriptions filled just as they usually would. You might not be as lucky if you need one of the medicines that are running low in supply.
Fibromyalgia is a condition which causes pain all over the body which is what Melanie has, who has recently been interviewed by the BBC . She wasn’t able to get the anti-inflammatory naproxen from her local pharmacy last month and instead she was given ibuprofen which didn’t have the same effect. Speaking to the Victoria Derbyshire programme, Melanie said “I was in floods of tears with the pain – it was awful. It makes a massive difference in my condition. It’s difficult to explain how hard it is to deal with, suffering from chronic pain.”
Even though people like Melanie have experienced her drugs being out of stock in the past, they usually come back in pretty quick but as you can tell from this time, that didn’t happen.