In his article Drug shortages in pharmacies ‘are putting lives in danger’ (3 July 2011) Jamie Doward discussed the issue of drug shortages in the UK.
This is a critical issue for UK patients, the NHS, and the pharmaceutical industry. Likewise, finding a solution will bring benefits to all parties.
Pharmaceutical companies have taken many additional actions to ensure that they are producing – and supplying to wholesalers and pharmacists - the medicines UK patients need. As mentioned in the article, some of these drugs, once purchased from the medicine’s producer, are then sold abroad for a profit. This results in a gap between supply and demand that puts patients at risk and causes considerable distress. The practice of selling on medicines intended for UK patients is not acceptable. Other EU countries have taken action to ensure their patients are protected and we, likewise, must be clear that this behaviour is not acceptable in this country.
All of those involved in the chain between a medicine’s production and its dispensing in the UK must cooperate to ensure that UK patients are now the priority. Working together to implement the Best Practice Guidance for the benefit of patients is critical. We aim to find ways to establish appropriate behaviours across the supply chain and agree the best possible solutions that ensure UK medicines reach the patients they are intended for and look forward to working with others to achieve this.
Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry