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Watchdog makes 'preliminary enquiries' into shortages

The government's competition watchdog – the Competition Markets Authority (CMA) – says shortages are "not yet under consideration" for a formal investigation.


The government’s competition watchdog may investigate stock shortages using information from C+D readers.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it is making “preliminary enquiries” into the reasons for stock shortages and last week (August 11) requested C+D’s 2012 and 2013 reports on the issue. 

The issue “is not yet under consideration” for a formal investigation, the watchdog said.

When asked why it was making enquiries, the CMA told C+D it “routinely monitors intelligence from a range of sources about markets from the whole economy”. It declined to comment on when it will decide whether or not to carry out the investigation.

Pharmacy Voice said it is already in “active discussions” with the CMA to help the watchdog “fully understand the problems in the supply chain and the negative impact on patients and pharmacies”.

“There is plenty of evidence that medicines shortages are a problem,” Pharmacy Voice spokesperson Gareth Jones told C+D last Friday (August 14).

The CMA asked C+D for a report it compiled on stock shortages in 2013, to help with its enquiries.

In the report, which was submitted to the Department of Health, C+D found that readers were spending an average of two working days a month trying to source out-of-stock medicines. In six out of 10 cases, manufacturers were breaching government guidelines that state that pharmacists should receive medicines within 24 hours of ordering them, C+D found.

In 2009, Scottish pharmacists urged CMA’s predecessor the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to investigate shortages caused by direct-to-pharmacy and restricted wholesaler models.


How could a government investigation into stock shortages benefit the sector?

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