Paracetamol, the ubiquitous painkiller used to treat everything from headaches to muscle pain, is currently in short supply to Irish pharmacies.
Five separate forms of the painkiller are currently on the list of unavailable medicines maintained by Ireland medicines regulator the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).
They include effervescent Solpadol, three separate types of paracetamol tablets and one that comes in a liquid form.
Industry sources said the issue with paracetamol was an ongoing difficulty in securing the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) from India where much of it is manufactured.
However, delay in securing API is cited as the reason for absence from shelves only for one of the five, a Paralief version of the tablet. Other reasons cited for the shortages are shipping delays, quality-control issues and unexpectedly high demand.
In one case, the tablet is not expected to be available until October although the other four have all told the regulator that they expect to have supplies available for Irish consumers by mid-May or June.
Several pharmacies around the State said supplies were restricted but that, to date, they had not run out.
The squeeze on supplies of the most common painkiller emerged amid the ongoing controversy over the absence of supplies of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to women across the State.
MEP Frances Fitzgerald said she had been contacted by many constituents across Dublin recently in relation to the HRT products shortage and had raised the issue with the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly.
In his reply, he said the HPRA had reported the supply of one range of HRT patches had increased by between 77 per cent and 117 per cent this year for its three most-used strengths, compared with 2020.
“In addition, based on demand in recent months, the company expects a similar increase in the demand for all strengths during 2022,” the Minister wrote. “This would mean that the usage of this patch in Ireland would be approximately 4.5-7.5 times higher in 2022 (depending on the strength) compared to 2019.”
Ms Fitzgerald tweeted subsequently: “Women’s health must not be put on the back burner yet again – @DonnellyStephen must take action now to speed up HRT deliveries.
"Menopause can be an absolute nightmare, yet HRT medication allows women to get on with their lives without living with horrific side effects," she said. "Women will face enormous physical and psychological issues if this is not resolved as quickly as possible."