Layer 1

C+D calls for urgent action to fix problems in supply chain

Sort Out Stocks Pharmacists believe patients are harmed in three out of four shortage cases


The government must take urgent action to resolve problems in the medicines supply chain because pharmacists believe patients are being harmed in three-quarters of cases of stock shortages, C+D has warned. 

C+D is calling for the government to take a lead in finding a solution to stock shortages "once and for all", following a 12-month investigation into how the problem is affecting pharmacists and patients.

In a report, submitted to the Department of Health on Tuesday (November 26), C+D revealed that pharmacists were spending more time than they did in previous years trying to get hold of out-of-stock drugs and were battling with quota arrangements daily.  

C+D news editor Gemma Collins submitted to the report on medicines shortages to the Department of Health on Tuesday (November 26)

More on stock shortages

C+D report: Medicines shortages 2013

Twitter chat: C+D reveals the results

Europe-wide data sharing needed to prevent shortages worsening

Problems in the supply chain were having a "significant impact" on patients, the 22-page report argued, and patient suffering was on the increase, with pharmacists reporting harm in three-quarters of medicines shortage cases.

"C+D's findings prove that medicine shortages are having a significant impact on pharmacists' workload and on patients' health," the report said. "The sector has made it clear that urgent action is needed to resolve the problems within the supply chain, before the situation gets worse."

C+D has called for the government to retract pharmacy minister Earl Howe's statement that the current approach to medicines supply is "working well"; to recognise that patients are suffering as a result of stock shortages; and to revisit the solutions to supply problems that the all-party pharmacy group (APPG) put forward last year. It has asked the Department of Health to respond to its report within three months.

C+D launched its inquiry into stock shortages in November last year in response to Earl Howe's approval of the medicines supply chain. The pharmacy minister also told C+D in August that pharmacists needed to prove that patients were suffering harm as a result of shortages.

By examining the evidence collected over the past 12 months, C+D found that pharmacists were spending on average at least two working days a month calling manufacturers and wholesalers to try to get hold of out-of-stock medicines. They were going to such great lengths to source medicines that, in most cases, their patients were not aware that there were shortages, it found.  

Of the respondents to C+D's Stocks Survey 2012, which received 371 responses between December 2012 and January 2013, 57 per cent said that at least one of their patients' health had suffered as a result of stock shortages, up from 45 per cent in 2011.

Extrapolating the results across the UK's 13,700 pharmacies, the health of more than 700,000 patients could have suffered as a result of stock shortages and pharmacies are likely to have been forced to turn away up to 1.2m patients in a year because they could not get hold of the medicines they needed. 

Evidence collected through C+D's online reporting tool revealed nearly 200 cases of medicine shortages, involving more than 70 drugs, between August and November this year. In most cases, pharmacists reported that patients were moderately harmed because the pharmacy could not get hold of their medicines. In 12 per cent of cases, pharmacists felt that patients suffered severe harm.    

Personal accounts from contractors affected by stock shortages were also included in the report. Miriam Blanchard, pharmacist at Well Street Pharmacy in Ruthin, North Wales, said it was "about time that someone at the highest level listened to the people [bearing] the brunt of this debacle and took some action".

Earl Howe said he would consider the report "carefully".  "We know that stock shortages are of great concern to pharmacy teams and I am grateful to Chemist + Druggist and its readers for making this information available,"  he added.

Read the full report here.

C+D revealed the results of its report in a Twitter chat on Wednesday evening. See how it unfolded here.

How has your pharmacy been affected by stock shortages?

Comment below or email us at [email protected] You can also find C+D on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook


Andrés Munoz, Work for a pharmaceutical company

It`s very simple – shortages are caused by manufactures pulling out of product, because it costs more than it sells for.
Less manufactures, less stock, volumes increases on remaining manufacturers, which is not forecasted.
4 months to make fresh stock = market short
Simple as that.
Drugs are too cheap in the UK.

Andy Mckee, Superintendent

A simple but astute observation. If drug X sells for £8 in the UK and £13 in Germany, and a supply hiccough reduces stock availability... where will the parent company send the stock?

Stock shortages are an inevitable consequence of the NHS drive to reduce the drugs bill. The solution is not so obvious.


Andy Mckee, I am presming your a TAX payer. It's in every tax payers interest that the NHS drives to lower the drug bill....unless you want taxes rasied further?

Rodney Rodney, Other healthcare professional

Del Boy u are rather dim, only ever peddling your own limited view of the world. You just might find life a little less bitter if u tried to open your little mind and considered the merit of others points of view!


It's called an opinion which I am entitled to. Yes everyone's thinking of number one, be they contractor or locum. Good luck to you all.

Rodney Rodney, Other healthcare professional

My dear boy.....the thing is, YOU are not thinking. You simply spew your bitter, ill considered dribble. As for thinking of number one this is clearly the extent of your miserable little world. You continually denigrate people with your trivial posts. Paul Rutter on the other hand is a respected Author who has done much for the practice of community pharmacy.

Richard Rutter, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

It would also help Del Boy in promoting his oddball views if he spent some time brushing up his spelling and grammar. University graduate? - I doubt it. He's just a loose cannon with a tenuous grasp of economics. The original Del Boy character is probably nearer to his pseudonym than he realises. Oh, and what is a "non healthcare professional"? If he is not in healthcare why does he seem so ready to comment?


simple economics - supply greater than demand - price falls :)

Read the article on pharmacists appealing decisions made by the NHS for refusal of an NHS contract :)

opportunities for all sir and not a select few is my motto !


Another bitter contractor who can't face the fact that there are potential pharmacists who can better deliver a service which doesn't cost the NHS an arm and a leg - any spelling mistakes there? :)


If you don't like the UK market , then GO to where drugs are not cheap

U get me ?

Job of the week

Accreditation and Recognition Panel member positions
Home Based
On application