Pharmacies experiencing shortages of key medicines - survey

Department of Health says it is ‘managing’ the situation

Irish Pharmacy Union has said pharmacies are experiencing ‘significant’  shortages of key medicines including anti-depressants such as cymbalta above. Photograph: Getty

Irish Pharmacy Union has said pharmacies are experiencing ‘significant’ shortages of key medicines including anti-depressants such as cymbalta above. Photograph: Getty

Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 09:29

Pharmacies are experiencing “significant” shortages of key medicines including anti-depressants, according to a survey carried out by the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU).

The shortages relate to cymbalta, which treats depression, lyrica, a pain relief medicine, and chloromycetin, which is an eye ointment.

The IPU said the shortages pose a health risk to patients and called on intervention from the Department of Health to ensure an adequate supply of medicines is made available.

The claim follows a survey of 200 pharmacists – conducted in the first two weeks of June – which found 98 per cent of pharmacists have noticed medicine shortages in the last 12 months.

Some 91 per cent of respondents reported that medicine shortages had increased in the last 12 months, while pharmacy staff spend eight hours per month resolving these shortages.

Furthermore, 44 per cent of pharmacists believe patients’ health outcomes have been adversely affected by medicine shortages.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said it was aware of the issues raised in the survey and was “managing” the situation in conjunction with the Irish Medicines Board (IMB).

She said manufacturers, wholesalers and pharmacies have a responsibility to work together to identify shortages when they arise and implement alternative arrangements to secure supply of the medicine or suitable alternatives to meet the needs of patients.

“Shortages of essential medicines are currently a cause of concern not just in Ireland but throughout Europe and the rest of the world,” she added.

IPU president Rory O’ Donnell warned the “significant level of medicine shortages” is “causing significant distress all round”.

“Added to these concerns is the fact pharmacists typically receive little or no warning these medicines are going out of stock and there is often little information on when these stocks will be replenished,” he said.