Pharmacists are sending patients home empty-handed several times a day as they do not have enough medication in stock.
As the drugs shortage worsens, three quarters of chemists said they were unable to fulfil prescriptions at least three times per shift, a survey found.
They have reported shortfalls in all major categories of medicines, with hormone replacement therapy, contraceptives and epilepsy pills the worst affected.
Last night, epilepsy experts warned the ‘unacceptable’ shortages were putting patients’ lives at risk.
Chemists reported shortfalls in all major categories of medicines, with hormone replacement therapy, contraceptives and epilepsy pills the worst affected (stock image)
I couldn’t get my HRT drugs in 11 pharmacies
Marilyn Collins spent a day traipsing around pharmacies in search of her HRT medication this week – to no avail.
Marilyn Collins, 69, was turned away from 11 chemists in West Sussex because of the lack of HRT drugs
The 69-year-old was turned away from 11 chemists in West Sussex because none of them had her drugs in stock.
Mrs Collins has been prescribed Estradot 50mg patches, which provide oestrogen, for five years.
She is now going to try and find a chemist that stocks the patches in Tenerife, where she is going on holiday with her husband on Sunday.
She said: ‘Yesterday I drove to all the chemists in three different towns near me. None of them had the patches and I came home empty-handed.
‘We’re booked to go to Tenerife so I’m going to take my prescription on holiday and see if I can get any HRT out there.
‘I can’t bear the thought of being without the patches, it’s horrifying.’
It came after the Government imposed an unprecedented export ban on 27 types of medicine to protect supplies to the NHS.
Drugs wholesalers have been banned from exporting all types of HRT, as well as contraceptives and adrenaline pens.
It means drugs in short supply will be given to patients in the UK, rather than sold abroad for higher profit.
Thanking the Daily Mail for campaigning on the crisis, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this week that the measures would help ‘ensure patients get the medicines they need’.
GPs and pharmacists are finding it difficult to cope with worsening shortages, caused by a ‘perfect storm’ of manufacturing problems in the global supply chain. Almost all types of HRT patches are in short supply, and six in ten pharmacists say they are struggling to get hold of epilepsy medication.
One pharmacist said: ‘It’s ludicrous. I compare it to walking into a bakery and on asking for a loaf, the baker says: « Sorry, we are out of bread! ».’
Desperate patients are traipsing around different chemists only to find none have their medication in stock. Some have resorted to taking their prescription documents on holiday with them, in the hope they can get the drugs from foreign pharmacies.
Yesterday a survey revealed that 75 per cent of pharmacists were unable to supply a medicine because it is out of stock three or more times a day.
Some 37 per cent said this happened five or more times a day, the poll of more than 400 pharmacy workers by the industry news website Chemist Druggist found.
And a quarter of pharmacy teams said they were not even able to find an alternative medicine for patients at least once a day.
Last night, experts warned the shortages were putting patients’ lives at risk.
Clare Pelham, head of Epilepsy Society, said: ‘People with epilepsy are totally dependent on getting the right medication, at the right dose, to control their seizures. It is absolutely unacceptable that they do not know, from one prescription to the next, whether their pharmacist will be able to access their medicines.
‘Our helpline is inundated with calls from people who are having to traipse around different chemists in the hopes of finding someone with a stock of the drugs they need. Every day we are talking with worried parents who are anxious that their sons and daughters will not be able to get the medicines they need.
‘Without the right medication, at the right dose, seizures can increase in both severity and frequency and for those who are most vulnerable, this is a huge cause of concern. As we know only too well, seizures are not benign events but can be fatal.’
Last night, epilepsy experts warned the ‘unacceptable’ shortages were putting patients’ lives at risk (stock image)
The survey also found that two in five pharmacies spend over an hour a day dealing with shortages.
One pharmacist said they were ‘at breaking point’ from stress and were ‘just about hanging on before we crack under the pressure’.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘Sourcing alternatives in the event of drug shortages can be hugely frustrating and time-consuming for GPs and pharmacists, as well as inconvenient and worrying for patients.’
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