Manufacturers know that any medicine shortage is extremely worrying for the people affected by it. They do everything they can to prevent medicine supply problems occurring and to resolve them quickly if they do happen.
Companies work to prevent shortages happening in the first place in a number of ways:
Despite the best efforts of all concerned, supply problems can happen for unforeseen reasons such as:
If shortages arise, companies are required to notify the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) who will work with a range of stakeholders to resolve them quickly using tried and tested procedures.
The DHSC has now published guidance which outlines the obligations on companies to inform the department of any medicine discontinuations or anticipated supply shortages, to help manage supply issues and mitigate any potential impacts on patients.
Companies take their responsibilities very seriously and are accountable to UK regulators should supplies of their products become unavailable.
To help answer questions you may be getting on flu vaccine availability, the Department of Health and Social Care has created a new two-page leaflet. It explains that there is sufficient vaccine available for all eligible groups. It also highlights why a person who is eligible may be asked to wait for a vaccine while reassuring them they will be able to have one before flu season starts. Read more here.
The ABPI's Rick Greville also talks about winter flu supply in his evidence session to the Welsh Parliament below.