St Albans pharmacists speak out on medicine supply shortages

Director of Manor Pharmacy Group Graham Phillips. Picture: Danny Loo

Director of Manor Pharmacy Group Graham Phillips. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Pharmacists have spoken out about coping with a supply shortage of popular medicines.

Patients may have encountered problems buying commonly used treatments in the district because the industry is going through a “particularly bad patch” of scarcity.

But the superintendent pharmacist at Quadrant Pharmacy in Marshalswick, Rachel Solanki, is unwilling to blame it wholeheartedly on leaving the EU.

Some national newspapers have attributed the nationwide problem to stockpiling in anticipation of Brexit.

Rachel said: “It is particularly bad at the moment but I think there are always shortages.

“It is really hard to say why and I wouldn’t put the supply issue down to just Brexit - there are always going to be supply issues sometimes and we are in a bad patch at the moment.

“Although, anything that disrupts the supply chain will have an effect.”

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She said it may have come into the public eye recently because affected lines have been popular medicines - including anti-inflammatory drug naproxen.

Rachel, who has been in the superintendent position for about 13 years, added: “We help people whenever we can, whether that means a change of medicine, or a few days supply to tide them over.

“But it does have a massive impact on our workload. When we are chasing and searching for suppliers we are not doing other work, like counselling patients.”

She stressed that they are not in control of supply chains, and urged for more funding to the industry.

However, Graham Phillips, superintendent pharmacist of the Manor Group Pharmacies with branches in Harpenden and Wheathampstead, was not so positive.

He wrote a blog for The Pharmacist describing the current situation as a “perfect storm”: “Generic prices – arguably also partly as a result of the Brexit decision – have rocketed and we are spending hours just trying to source generics at all.

“When we can source them, we’re paying more than the NHS is paying us, so we are losing money. Take naproxen, for example. It’s one of the oldest standing generics and at the moment it’s unavailable.

“All sorts of things just go AWOL and there are better things for my staff to be doing than chasing generics companies, like clinical work.”