Doctor Issues Warning On Drug Shortages

Doctor Issues Warning On Drug Shortages

The government needs to take action on drug shortages, or risk patients suffering harm or even dying, one doctor has warned.

Writing for the Guardian, Zara Aziz, a GP partner in inner-city Bristol, explained that drug shortages are not only bad news for patients, but are also wasting doctors’ time. She revealed that she has to identify and prescribe alternatives when a patient’s regular medication is out of stock. In some cases, this requires additional consultations.

She noted that in Bristol the most common shortages are currently for EpiPen, certain tablets that are used to treat high blood pressure, some contraceptives and hormone-replacement therapies, and even a formulation of morphine that’s used in palliative care.

“This poses safety issues as patients risk running out of medication, suffering adverse reactions or not taking medicines properly for fear of running out,” she asserted. Another consequence is that it adds to the stress many patients undergo.

Dr Aziz pointed out that 60 per cent of hospital pharmacists in the UK are currently reporting drug shortages, with a number of factors exacerbating the problem.

They include the fact that the manufacturers of some generic drugs are targeting more profitable markets overseas, new regulations that mean the manufacturing process takes longer, and certain unethical manufacturers stockpiling drugs in a bid to push wholesale prices up. Brexit is another factor that’s adding to the problem, she said.

Pharmacists have been warning about drug shortages since the beginning of this year, when the number of medicines listed as being in short supply climbed from 45 in October last year to 80 in January.

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