• Press Office

    Posted in category News Release by Press Office on 04/09/2010

    Urgent action needed to ensure UK patients get their medicines

Urgent action is needed to tackle the worsening problems UK patients are facing when trying to receive their medicine prescriptions. In response to the results of a medicine stock survey of pharmacists conducted by Chemist & DruggistMagazine, the ABPI has expressed serious concerns about the risks for patients and is calling for urgent Government action to tackle the root cause of the problem - those who are selling medicines intended for UK patients overseas to take advantage of exchange rates for profit.


​Richard Barker, Director General of the ABPI said: “Our primary concern is for patients. Manufacturers have supplied more than enough medicines to satisfy patient demand in the UK but there is still not enough getting through to the front line. We believe that the problem is worsening, despite joint efforts by the Supply Chain Forum. The Government must take action to deal with unabated trading by those who continue to put profit before the well being of NHS patients.”

“The ABPI has presented two very specific proposals to Government that we believe will resolve the problem. Since shortages result from a minority of pharmacists trading medicines intended for UK patients, the roles of pharmacist and wholesaler need to be clearly separated, as they are in a number of other European countries. We are also calling for the Government to introduce much more stringent criteria for the holders of wholesaler dealer licences to ensure they have the professional qualifications to fulfil their obligations responsibly and have appropriate facilities to hold a full range of NHS products.”

The pharmaceutical industry in the UK is committed to maintaining a reliable supply of medicines, and the ABPI is working with the Department of Health, pharmacy professionals and other trade bodies to find a sustainable solution.


Notes to Editors:

  • The Supply Chain Forum was established by the Department of Health earlier this year to raise awareness of the issues around supply shortages, clarify the causes and work with all stakeholders including the NHS, pharmacists, manufacturers and wholesalers to seek a lasting solution.
  • Parallel trading occurs when a product placed on the market in one country is bought by an intermediary (such as a wholesaler, pharmacy or dispensing doctor) who then exports it to another country.
  • The UK currently has amongst the lowest medicines prices in Europe, driven by a combination of UK and Euro currency exchange rate changes and successive price cuts jointly agreed by industry and Government under the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS).
  • Due to current low UK prices, medicines intended for UK patients are being exported by intermediaries to other EU countries where they attract higher prices.
  • Parallel trading is legal under European law but it creates a gap in the UK supply chain.
  • IMS has estimated that around 10% of UK pharmacists are exporting medicines to other countries and that the value of exports is between £30-50 million per month.
  • In other European countries, the number of wholesaler dealer licences, (which are required to trade medicines), are far fewer than those in the UK.
  • The British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (BAPW) has only 10 members and supplies more than 80% of UK demand, yet there are 1,800 wholesaler dealer licences in the UK. 

For further information, please contact the ABPI press office: 020 7747 1410.

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