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02 Oct 2016 Info Sheet

Medicine shortages and the community pharmacist: on-going issues impact workload and patient care

For the past 7 years the UK has been experiencing significant medicine shortages[1]. Despite appeals for intervention to tackle this problem most community pharmacists are all too familiar with this issue.

Two recent reports, based on audits undertaken in 2014-15, estimate that over 20% of prescription interventions relate to medicine shortages[2, 3]. Conservative estimates put medicine shortages incidents across the UK at up to 750 per day[2] and possibly 10% of these can result in moderate or severe patient risk.

This issue can also undermine pharmacy patient relationships and pharmacy GP relationships. It is an extremely time consuming issue and takes our profession away from more constructive and pro-active tasks. The NPA, ABPI, APPG and Department of Health are trying to address the chronic, systemic issue of medicine shortages at the root cause. It is a complex issue that will likely be with us for some time.

In the meantime, such shortages, and their deleterious impact on patient care, remain a fact of life for busy pharmacists and Idis Global Access are here to provide a safe and compliant, practical solution to the problem.

Despite the best efforts of many pharmacists, medicine shortages are having an adverse impact on patients. We have been told of various cases involving vulnerable patients not receiving the medicine they need. … patients with: mental health problems; epilepsy sufferers; diabetics; and even pregnant women in need of medicine to stabilise their pregnancy. Evidence we received highlights the stress, anxiety and sometimes harm that patients suffer. (APPG Inquiry 2012)

Medicine shortages lead to a number of potentially negative outcomes and consequences for:

  • patient safety
  • patient confidence
  • pharmacist-patient relationship
  • wasted time and effort for patients, pharmacists and surgery staff
  • knock-on impact and anxiety for vulnerable patients and their carers

Medicine shortages – the solution, Idis because we have:

  • rapid responsive system in place with Idis Online
  • global reach with reliable high quality suppliers
  • many drugs accessed from source
  • compliant and reliable supply chain in place
  • customer focused teams
  • quick and efficient delivery contact

Medicines shortages were clearly experienced by the pharmacists involved in this audit and we recommend that action be taken to reduce medicines shortages. These shortages have the potential to impact negatively on patients… (RPS report: Keeping Patients Safe in the Community 2014)


  1. Report of the APPG Inquiry into Medicine Shortages (2012).
  2. Prescription interventions Practice-based Audit 2014/15, Pharmacy Voice, 2015
  3. Keeping Patients Safe in the Community: The Evidence from Community Pharmacy Prescription Interventions, RPS, 2014

Contact Idis Global Access for rapid resolution of drug supply issues.

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