Our patients are not stockpiling medicines, contractors tell C+D

Contractors told C+D last month that shortages of a growing range of medicines, including Adalat and naproxen, were costing pharmacies’ precious time and money.

Olutayo Arikawe, superintendent pharmacist at The Priory Pharmacy in Dudley, said while medicines stockpiling has been highlighted in the national media in recent weeks, she has not seen any evidence of it among her patients.

Indira Panchal, who owns four pharmacies in Bedford, echoed Ms Arikawe’s comments, adding that it would be difficult for patients to stockpile as “GPs don’t give out prescriptions willy-nilly”.

Patients might be stockpiling

Sid Dajani, owner of Wainwrights Chemist in Hampshire, said patients might be stockpiling ahead of Brexit – although he has not seen evidence of this happening among his patients.

“When there’s a rumour that something might be in short supply, some people then start stockpiling,” said Mr Dajani, who is also a Royal Pharmaceutical Society English pharmacy board member.

“Brexit is one of those ‘speculated’ shortages and therefore things have been stockpiled and become in short supply,” he claimed.

“Supply chain problems are here already”

Mike Keen, CEO of Kent local pharmaceutical committee, said while he has not seen any evidence of patients stockpiling ahead of Brexit, he “would not be surprised, as patients will be concerned about their long-term condition management”.

Issues with the medicines supply chain “are already here, and Brexit has not happened yet”, he added.

Shortages have been worsening in certain areas across the country in recent months, he said.

Pharmacies “vulnerable”

As part of its “medicines supply contingency planning programme”, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has asked manufacturers* to stockpile six weeks’ worth of supplies ahead of Brexit, but has warned that pharmacies caught over-ordering medicines will be investigated.

Mike Hewitson, owner of Beaminster Pharmacy in Dorset, said this stockpiling further up in the supply chain could be causing some of the medicine shortages in recent months. It also makes pharmacies “more vulnerable to price rises”, he claimed.

“I’ve had lots of conversations with patients about Brexit,” Mr Hewitson said. “Lots of them are very concerned about access to their medicines. I had a conversation with one patient with epilepsy, for example, [who] was very concerned about her access to anticonvulsants.

“It was good to be able to reassure her and explain the phenomenal job pharmacies are doing protecting patients’ interests,” Mr Hewitson added.

*This article was amended after publication to clarify that the DH has asked manufacturers to stockpile six weeks’ worth of supplies, not wholesalers.

Have you seen any evidence of patients stockpiling ahead of Brexit? Vote in C+D’s poll below and contact us anonymously with more details at [email protected]

Result

Have you seen or heard any evidence of patients stockpiling medicines ahead of Brexit?
Yes

43%

No

57%

Total votes: 112

Author: Lorraine Oliver