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Over 150 medicines in short supply as situation worsens in NI


Over 150 medicines in short supply as situation worsens in NI

By Neil Trainis

The chief executive of Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland Gerard Greene told an emergency meeting of contractors last night that over 150 medicines are in short supply as pharmacists struggle to meet patients’ needs across the country. 

The situation was described by CPNI as “critical” as widespread shortages hit supplies of drugs used to treat blood pressure, mental health, osteoporosis and prostate conditions.

Greene (pictured) warned pharmacists cannot continue paying higher concessionary prices for drugs in short supply without “adequate remuneration” from the Department of Health. Members of the Legislative Assembly will discuss the issue at an emergency summit at Stormont on Tuesday.

“Last night’s meeting served to take stock of the very real sense of alarm that exists among community pharmacists right across Northern Ireland. The supply line of medicines from suppliers to pharmacists is on the verge of being completely severed,” Mr Greene said.

“Already we’re seeing shortages on around 150 medicines, equating to 1,000 packs per pharmacy per month, as pharmacists simply cannot keep up with the short supplies and astronomical prices without adequate remuneration from the Department of Health.

“The community pharmacy network needs urgent support at this time and the measures outlined by the Department of Health fall far short of what is needed.”

Mr Greene recently warned the Department’s £5.3m support package fell “considerably short” of what is needed to tackle shortages and price hikes. CPNI chair Peter Rice echoed that view and said that as a pharmacist, he felt “powerless at preventing a worsening of the situation” for his patients.

“For months, community pharmacists have been warning the Department of an impending crisis, and unfortunately, without the right response in place, that crisis is now here,” he said.

“We heard last night that community pharmacists are bracing themselves for further shortages and the impacts upon patient health and wellbeing this will inevitably cause.

“From my own experience, I’m having to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to source medicines, taking me away from time which should be spent looking after patients. In many instances, I’m just not able to keep up with skyrocketing prices which, only months ago, cost a fraction of what they do now.”

Calling for “an immediate and substantial injection of funding to maintain the safe supply of medicines this winter,” Rice said: “In relation to the Department’s stated £5.3 million package, this includes almost £5m of a loan which we will have to pay back. From the network’s perspective, that’s not a support package, that’s a stay of execution.”

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