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NHS faces shortage of painkillers, steroids and anti-depressants as drug supply problems worsen


NHS faces shortage of painkillers, steroids and anti-depressants as drug supply problems worsen, experts warn

  • Companies face ‘unprecedented pressure’ with supply chains and red tape
  • Manufacturers struggling with ‘perfect storm’ of rising costs of raw materials 
  • Mark Samuels said there was a ‘real risk’ the NHS will face further shortages

The NHS is facing shortages of blood pressure pills, painkillers and anti-depressants as drug producers are hit by supply problems, an industry body has warned.

Companies providing widely used medications face ‘unprecedented pressure’ with supply chains and red tape, it is claimed.

Manufacturers of dozens of the UK’s most commonly used drugs are struggling with a ‘perfect storm’ of rising costs of raw materials and delays of up to 18 months to secure approvals from the medicines regulator.

Some anti-depressants, blood pressure tablets, steroids and pills used to relieve arthritis pain could be affected, according to the i newspaper.

The NHS is facing shortages of blood pressure pills, painkillers and anti-depressants as drug producers are hit by supply problems, an industry body has warned (stock image)

The NHS is facing shortages of blood pressure pills, painkillers and anti-depressants as drug producers are hit by supply problems, an industry body has warned (stock image)

British Generic Manufacturers Association chief executive Mark Samuels said there was a ‘real risk’ the NHS and pharmacies will face further shortages in the coming months – similar to the current HRT crisis.

‘Generic medicines have been taken for granted,’ Mr Samuels said.

‘It is a complex industry and it is under unprecedented pressure and that does bring a real risk of shortages at the moment.’

The UK regulator – the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency – said it regularly accelerates approval processes where a product could be the subject of a shortage.

British Generic Manufacturers Association chief executive Mark Samuels said there was a ‘real risk’ the NHS and pharmacies will face further shortages in the coming months – similar to the current HRT crisis (stock image)

British Generic Manufacturers Association chief executive Mark Samuels said there was a ‘real risk’ the NHS and pharmacies will face further shortages in the coming months – similar to the current HRT crisis (stock image)

Figures indicate there are nearly 50 generic medicines supplied to the NHS in a particular size or strength that are listed as having supply issues – a 25 per cent increase in the last month.

Of these, 44 have no equivalent alternative.

A source at one of the UK’s major generic manufacturers said there are ‘very fine margins’ in a drug being viable to produce or not.

Separate figures from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, which represents 11,000 NHS pharmacy contractors, showed 67 drugs were listed in March as medications for which the Government was willing to pay a higher price due to problems such as supply issues.

Another industry body, the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said the number of patients facing issues with obtaining medications is likely to be at least 500,000.

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