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23 November 2011 | Angeline Albert
A medicine shortage has prompted MPs to
launch a major inquiry into why potentially life-saving prescription drugs are
difficult to source.
The cross-party politicians that make up
the All-Party Pharmacy Group (APPG) is urging
pharmacists, who source NHS prescription medicine, and those in the medicine
supply chain to submit their views on the reasons for the poor supply
The APPG said finding enough NHS
prescription medication is “a daily challenge for pharmacists up and down the
country”, who are spending too much time looking for medicines.
Pharmacists purchase prescription medicines
on behalf of the NHS and are reimbursed for the cost. The responses of around
400 pharmacists working for LloydsPharmacy in a report
published earlier this month highlighted the difficulties sourcing many
medicines including those used to treat serious conditions such as depression,
diabetes and respiratory disease.
Labour MP Kevin Barron, chairman of the
APPG, said: “This has been a problem for far too long and as far as we can see,
the situation is not improving. The best interests of patients are being put at
risk if medicines are not available when they are needed, and pharmacists are
spending inordinate amounts of time trying to source medicines that are in
The selling of prescription drugs intended
for the NHS abroad for a higher price than would be received in the UK has not
been ruled out as an area of investigation by the APPG.
“The group has an open mind about the
causes of shortages; it is keen to hear the views of respondents on this, and
on possible solutions. However, it is aware that there are several factors that
contribute to shortages, rather than just one,” said an APPG spokesman.
☛ The APPG is
inviting interested parties to give their views by 23 December. To do so, email