Brexit or greedy big pharma? UK pharmacies on a ‘knife-edge’ amid growing drug shortages

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The UK is suffering from a serious drug shortage that affects all 36 categories of medicine, according to a new survey. The crisis has been attributed to a number of factors – none of them related to Brexit.

Druggists are struggling to explain the medicine shortfall to “angry and desperate” patients, according to a survey of 420 pharmacy professions released by Chemist and Druggist magazine.

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The shortfall has hit all major medicine categories, from laxatives to anti-fungal drugs.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs – used to treat female menopause – have the most severe supply problems, with 84 percent of respondents struggling to get hold of these products.

There are also not enough contraceptives (reported by 67 percent of pharmacy staff) as well as supply issues with anti-epileptic drugs (noted by 58 percent of respondents).

Pharmacists said that trying to fill prescriptions has become a daily challenge.

While medicine shortages have been attributed to fears over a post-Brexit supply chain breakdown, experts have acknowledged that the touchy political issue has not factored into the current crisis.

In fact, the shortfall has been blamed on manufacturing problems and the discontinuation of some brands. An investigation by the Daily Mail found a more sinister culprit. According to the paper, “greedy” pharmaceutical wholesalers have been deliberately withholding stock in order to hike up prices.

A separate survey recently conducted by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) found that more than 20 percent of prescription drugs suffered shortages in the previous three months. More than 90 percent of respondents told the PDA that they thought the problem had gotten worse over the previous year.

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