Patients in UK ‘at risk in medicine shortage’, experts warn

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And the impending crisis means that many people could now be turning to risky online sellers for vital medications. Dr Leyla Hannbeck, CEO of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, has revealed that the antidepressant citalopram has been placed on the “shortages list”, along with the widely used painkiller tramadol, which is given to patients after major surgery.

Paracetamol also makes the list – and the Royal Osteoporosis Society is warning popular treatment alendronic acid is in short supply.

The problems are being caused by a shortage of raw ingredients used to manufacture medicines. These are often supplied by countries in the Far East. There are also rising costs set by pharmaceutical manufacturers and wholesalers.

Dr Hannbeck said: “We are trying hard to ensure patients get their medicines and we don’t want people to worry but it’s an absolute nightmare in the already overstretched pharmacies that are battling big challenges with workforce pressures.

She added: “They get desperate and get their hands on medicines from the internet, where it is not safe.

“We don’t know why the Government is not responding swiftly enough to tackle the issue.”

In response, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We are not aware of any shortages of paracetamol, including Panadol, opiates or antibiotics, and alternatives remain available for insulin and osteoporosis products where there are supply issues.

“We routinely share information about medicine supply issues directly with the NHS so they can put plans in place to reduce the risk of any shortage impacting patients, including offering alternative medication.”

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