Cancer drugs and antibiotics among over 300 medicines now out of stock in Ireland

Cancer drugs and antibiotics are among 331 medicines currently out of stock across Irish pharmacies, with 273 classed as having medium-to-high patient impact by the medicine’s regulator, it has emerged. ​

They include antibiotics and treatments for high blood pressure, arthritis, allergies, epilepsy, ADHD and cancer.

New research reveals that over one in three people said they or their family have been impacted by medicine shortages in the past 12 months.

The poll was commissioned by pharmaceutical supply-chain company Azure Pharmaceuticals and comes as latest analysis shows that there are currently 331 medicines out of stock across Irish pharmacies.

One-third of people said they have had their prescription changed due to shortages. Of the 273 medicines that are currently out of stock, and deemed to have medium-to-high impact on the list from the regulator, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) does not have a generic equivalent and will require intervention by healthcare providers to change the prescription to an alternative medication, said the company.

Of those surveyed, 40pc said ­shortages were getting a lot or slightly worse, with 12pc saying the problem was getting slightly or a lot better.

Sandra Gannon, chief executive of Azure Pharmaceuticals, said: “This research demonstrates that medicine shortages continue to have a profound impact on Irish patients, pharmacists, and GPs. We continue to wish this problem away; meanwhile neighbouring countries are taking proactive measures to mitigate and respond to this challenge.

“Changes in prescriptions due to shortages are leading to undue stress for patients, adding additional costs to households, while also creating heavy administrative burdens on healthcare professionals.

“Pharmacists are ready to assist in the delivery of improved community health, however, sustained medicines shortages pose a significant barrier to the potential efficacy of such proposals.

“The Government should look to the actions taken by other jurisdictions over the past 18 months. Britain… has launched the Critical Imports ­Council bringing experts from private enterprise together with the civil service.

“Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal, Denmark and others have all responded with a range of policy and administrative measures. Additionally, the European Medicines Agency has published recommendations to strengthen supply chains of critical medicine.”

She called for the introduction of an essential medicines list, a new medicines inventory system, fully utilising existing powers and introducing a minimal supplier rule which would broaden supplier diversity.

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