The Daily Telegraph today published a front page story today accusing pharmaceutical manufacturers of rationing medicines. The article: 'Lives put at risk by shortage of drugs, NHS leaders warn' suggests that quotas are to blame for causing supply shortages in the NHS.
The ABPI responded to this accusation on behalf of the industry, making it clear that quotas are a necessity, and that removing quotas would only exacerbate the situation.
Quotas are a legitimate means of ensuring that UK patients receive the medicines they need. Where they are used, quotas aim to ensure that pharmacists do not present excessive orders to be fulfilled. We know that quotas are not the perfect answer to the problem – they are a sticking plaster, not a cure. However, the fact is that there have been occasions where manufacturers have received orders for medicines which represent more than the entire UK’s requirement for one particular medicine in one go – in one example a manufacturer received orders equivalent to 26 years' worth of the entire UK need for one medicine within a three month period. If orders of this excess were fulfilled then we would be left with no stock available for other UK pharmacists, and patients wouldn't have access to the medicines they need, when they need them.
Removing quotas would not benefit patients, but it could cause great harm. The only group who would benefit are the small percentage of pharmacists and wholesalers who actively sell medicines intended for UK patients abroad for a profit.
Stephen WhiteheadABPI Chief Executive