Shortages of hay fever medication and painkillers as NHS faces supply crisis

The NHS is facing shortages of blood pressure pills, painkillers, hay fever tablets and anti-depressants as drug producers are hit by supply problems.

Companies providing medications for millions of people face ‘unprecedented pressure’ with supply chains and red tape, a leading industry body has warned.

Dozens of the most commonly used medicines in Britain are struggling with a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges caused by rising costs of raw materials supplied from India and China, according to the i paper.

Mark Samuels, chief executive of the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA), whose members supply the NHS with 2.2m packs of medicines per day. said: ‘The generic supply chain is under unprecedented pressure.

‘There is a cumulative impact of factors that is unhelpful for the resilience of the NHS supply chain and it does bring a risk of medicine shortages.’

Mr Samuels said there was a ‘real risk’ the NHS will face further shortages in the coming months.

Two thirds of pharmacists have already said they face daily supply issues.

A national shortage of hay fever tablets has already been reported after the Met Office warned of high pollen levels over the coming days.

As a result, millions of people could be forced to spend another lockdown indoors this summer.

A spokesperson for Boots stressed there are ‘a very small number of lines that are currently out of stock’ due to an industry-wide shortage of the active ingredient chlorphenamine maleate.

‘However, we are expecting this to be resolved soon and new deliveries are expected in the coming weeks,’ they said.

Boots confirmed only four out of 90 hay fever products were affected and there was good availability of other items for the pollen allergy.

Meanwhile, Sajid Javid met with suppliers of hormone replacements, referred to as HRT, amid growing pressure to resolve shortages of the vital medication.

Prescriptions have more than doubled in England over the past five years but thousands of women have been unable to obtain the therapy for menopause symptoms such as low mood, brain fog and hot flushes.

The government has appointed Madelaine McTernan as a new HRT tsar to tackle the crisis.

Mr Samuels said: ‘We are in the middle of a terrible HRT shortage at the moment but there are other medicines and other areas that are at risk of shortage.

‘Generic medicines have been taken for granted. It is a complex industry and it is under unprecedented pressure and that does bring a real risk of shortages at the moment.’

A joint statement has been published by four medical organisations regarding the disruption in supplies of HRT, stressing the urgent need to examine alternatives.

Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), highlighted this is ‘incredibly distressing’ for those affected.

‘Society has made real progress in the past couple of years in tackling the taboos and stigma that surround menopause,’ he added.

‘It’s unacceptable that women are facing barriers to accessing HRT.

‘We have joined with other medical organisations to work closely with the newly appointed HRT tsar and make sure this situation is addressed so that it doesn’t happen again.’

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