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Pharmacists voice concerns over rising shortages of medication

By Erumelithil, May 11, 2011 | Updated: May 12, 2011 | |
  1. Erumelithil

    PHARMACISTS HAVE WARNED of a shortage in the supply of vital medication, as the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) says that over 40 medicines have been unavailable in Ireland in the past few weeks.

    Caitriona O’Riordan, a pharmacist in Co Cork, described the Irish medicine supply system as “fragile” and said some cancer patients could wait up to two weeks for their oral chemotherapy medication.

    “Pharmacists want an assurance that manufacturers will maintain supply of all the prescription medicines we require for our patients in an efficient, timely, safe and reliable manner,” O’Riordan said.

    Addressing shortages
    A spokesperson for the Irish Medicines Board told TheJournal.ie today that shortages can arise from issues in the manufacturing process and from unexpected increases in demand, or inaccurate demand forecasting.
    The IMB said that potential shortages in the Irish market could be compounded by the fact that, it being a relatively small market, there are not always available alternatives to certain products. However, it said it has a ‘batch-specific request’ scheme in operation which can be used to access certain medicines if they are “temporarily and unavoidably unavailable”.
    The organisation, along with the Department of Health, HSE and Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, is a member of the Medication Safety Forum. The IMB said that one of the forum’s priorities is to improve the management of medicines shortages.

    Over the counter
    Yesterday, pharmacists attending the IPU’s national conference called on the Irish Medicines Board to approve the supply of certain medicines without prescription, following the IMB’s recent decision to make the morning after pill available over the counter.

    Co Offaly pharmacist Louise Begley said deregulating certain common medication would save patients time and money, while allowing people “an additional layer of access to healthcare professionals”.


    Susan Ryan
    The Journal


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