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Drug shortage warning as wholesalers looks to profit from weak pound

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Urgent action is needed to stem shortages of some medicines in the UK as drug wholesalers look to export stocks to profit from the weak pound, a body representing pharmacists has warned.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said the issue of medicine availability needed to be addressed quickly to avoid putting patients’ health at risk.

The government is understood to be preparing a summit next month to seek a resolution to the current problems.

According to the RPS, more than 40 well-known medicines for chronic conditions are in short supply, with pharmacists reporting notable shortages.

They include anti-hypertensives, epilepsy treatments, plus some medicines to treat cancer and prevent rejection following organ transplantation.

The RPS said the weak pound in relation to the Euro had increased the demand for UK-sourced medicines, while the supply of medicines from other EU states dwindled with their rising cost.

In turn, exports of UK sourced medicines into Europe had increased in line with their competitive prices.

Pharmacist and RPS spokesman Neal Patel said: “Our members are spending long hours chasing down supplies which are increasingly difficult to obtain.

“The society fears that if we do not identify a solution through real understanding of the problem, patient care will continue to suffer.”

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