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Drug shortages "inevitable", health minister says

By News team

Medicine shortages are "inevitable" given the number of prescriptions dispensed each year, health minister Simon Burns MP said last week (2 February 2012).

Mr Burns said that with 900 million prescriptions being dispensed annually by some 10,900 community pharmacies, some "shortages and delivery delays are inevitable."

The minister, who made his written comments in reply to a parliamentary question by Stourbridge Conservative MP Margot James, said the Government had "well established arrangements" to deal with medicines shortages and is working with stakeholders to minimise the impact on patients.

His comments come as the All Party Pharmacy Group continues its inquiry into supply chain shortages, which will take further oral evidence tomorrow (7 February 2012).

Mr Burns’s remarks angered AAH Pharmaceuticals group managing director Mark James. "This is a worryingly complacent response, which shows no understanding of the scale or the seriousness of the problem," he said.

Mr James also criticised the Department of Health’s best practice guidance on keeping the supply chain intact, saying it has had "no impact whatsoever."

He added: "Wholesalers have put forward constructive proposals, including amending regulations, to reflect new patient service obligations, independent third party monitoring and improved emergency supply arrangements, but we will not make progress until the DoH is willing to play its part."

Citation: The Pharmaceutical JournalURI: 11094595

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