In his article Drug firms’ greed leads to a shortage of medicine (9 July 2011) Andrew Picken discussed the issue of drug shortages in Scotland.
This is a critical issue for Scottish patients, the NHS, and the pharmaceutical industry. Likewise, finding a solution will bring benefits to all parties. Pharmaceutical companies have proactively taken many steps to ensure that they are producing the required amount of medicines needed by patients in Scotland. These medicines are supplied to wholesalers and pharmacists, but once purchased from the medicine’s producer some of these drugs are sold abroad for a profit. This results in a gap between supply and demand, putting patients at risk. The practice of selling on medicines abroad for profit making purposes, although legal, is not acceptable if it means that patients here do not get the drugs they need. Other EU countries have taken action - in order to protect our patients we need to make it clear that this behaviour is not acceptable in Scotland.Scottish patients must be the priority. All of those involved in the chain between a medicine’s production and its dispensing must work together to implement the Best Practice Guidance for the benefit of patients. We aim to find ways to establish appropriate behaviours across the supply chain and cooperate to agree the best possible solutions to ensure Scottish medicines reach Scottish patients.
Sandra Auld, Director, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Scotland
(An edited version of this letter was published in The Scottish Daily Mail on 18 July 2011)