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

Mike Keen: I haven't seen it, but I wouldn't be surprised if patients were stockpiling
Mike Keen: I haven't seen it, but I wouldn't be surprised if patients were stockpiling

Pharmacy owners have told C+D they have not seen any evidence of patients stockpiling medicines ahead of Brexit.

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
40%
No
60%
Total votes: 128
10 Comments
Question: 
What do you think is contributing to medicine shortages?

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

How does one stockpile pom without getting a prescription for it in the first place? Brains are brilliant things. Please use it before talking (provided one existed). I feel so hopeless seeing superintendents like this talking with brain afk and he's even a rps board member. I gonna reconsider continuing my rps membership next year in spite of this 

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

First glance I thought that said 'porn'. Must go to Specsavers.....

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

Most patients struggle to get prescriptions out of their surgeries so they have no chance of stockpiling medicines.  Some surgeries do not allow re-ordering until you have 7 days medicines left but they don't allow for bank holidays so cause chaos - no chance of being able to stockpile

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

There is no way for patients to stockpile prescription only medication other than to obtain a prescription for it. Perhaps this question should be asked of all the residents of GP-land.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

As a reply to myself, our local surgeries are getting queries from patients wanting to stockpile but they are basically telling people not to be so stupid! Good for them. I also had a query yesterday from a carehome with a list of medicines they wanted me to check individually to see if there would be a problem with any of them. I went all Mystic Meg, consulted my crystal ball, read the tealeaves, felt my water and in a polite, round about way, told them I have no idea but probably not so grow up and stop worrying.

A LOCUM, Community pharmacist

Never mind all this brexit business , people have been stockpiling medicines for decades , in 1987 when Ventolin was far more than £1.50, a patient returned me 72 unopened inhalers. I bet there's been worse examples ?

RS Pharmacist, Primary care pharmacist

Could not agree more, many (not all) patients have always been stockpiling in many cases unintentionally, but up until more recent times, patients do not see the issue with this, regarding potential waste and cost to the NHS.

Also how many times do you have patients returning meds saying "I haven’t opened it my love, you can give it to someone else" … Well guess what? I CAN’T!

A Hussain, Senior Management

We recently really struggled to get levothyroxine.  When it became available again it expires in July 2019!! How else could that be possible apart from someone up the chain holding on to stock?

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

It would be insane to suggest Pharmacies are stockpiling. How could you stockpile something that is highly overpriced and the NCSO prices granted are eating in to the profits.

Patients -- Same scenario. At a time when it is difficult to get hold of their regular supply, how could you expect them to stockplile ???

Wholesalers -- Yes, there is a very high chance, not because of brexit alone but also for them to benefit from the NCSO system (which they are not passing on down the supply chain)

Paul Dishman, Pharmaceutical Adviser

The very same wholesalers who own chains of pharmacies? Perish the thought!

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