Prescription Drugs: Shortages

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 3rd January 2023.

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Photo of Lord Mawson Lord Mawson Crossbench

To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address community pharmacists experiencing daily shortages of medicines.

Photo of Lord Mawson Lord Mawson Crossbench

To ask His Majesty's Government what support they will provide to community pharmacy teams, if any, who are (1) dealing with an increasing number of medicines shortages, and (2) spending increasing hours sourcing medicines to ensure that patients do not go without.

Photo of Lord Markham Lord Markham The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Medicine supply problems can occur for various reasons; for example, due to manufacturing difficulties, regulatory problems, problems with the supply of raw materials, sudden demand spikes or from issues which are related to the distribution of the product.

The Department has well-established procedures to deal with medicine supply issues and works closely with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the pharmaceutical industry, NHS England and others within the supply chain to help prevent shortages and to ensure that the risks to patients are minimised when they do arise.

One of the tools we use to support pharmacists to manage supply issues are serious shortage protocols (SSPs), a standard procedure used frequently to manage medicine supply issues. They are a safe and effective way to ensure that medicines continue to be available for everyone who needs them, while saving time for patients, pharmacists and prescribers.

Issuing a SSP allows pharmacists to legally supply a specified alternative medicine, removing the need for the patient to return to the prescriber which saves time in general practitioners practices and inconvenience for patients.

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