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Wholesalers to visit pharmacies to explain medicine supply disruption

The HDA has produced an infographic to explain how supplies of medicines can be disrupted (Credit: HDA)

Representatives from the largest wholesalers will visit pharmacies across the UK to “dispel some of the misconceptions” around medicine shortages, C+D can exclusively reveal.

Wholesalers “take very seriously any disruption to the supply of medicines”, but “are not always able to fulfill all orders in full that they receive from pharmacists, hospitals and GPs”, Martin Sawer, executive director of wholesaler body the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA), told C+D.

“Although this problem has been referred to as ‘drug shortages’, often the real nature of the problem is the delay between a patient handing over their prescription and actually getting the medicines they need,” he explained.

The HDA and its members – which include Alliance Healthcare, AAH and Phoenix – have produced an infographic explaining the medicines supply chain, identifying the “challenges and threats that can occur at different points” and outlining the measures wholesalers put in place to help mitigate disruption.

The infographic – which the HDA is launching exclusively on C+D today (see below) – “doesn’t shy away from the complications of supply”, but “aims to dispel some of the ambiguity and misconceptions surrounding the availability of drugs”, Mr Sawer stressed.

Representatives from HDA members will be arranging pharmacy visits “over the coming months” to hand-deliver copies of the infographic and talk about medicine supply issues, he added.

See the infographic in full, including a key explaining each stage of the supply chain.

C+D is exploring the impact of medicine shortages on community pharmacy staff all this week. Read the coverage so far and join the conversation by tweeting #MedicineShortagesWeek

How are medicine shortages affecting your staff and patients?

James Mason, Administration & Support

Well at least that cleared it all up! lol

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

I don't want pretty pictures!  I would like a list stating what is in short supply - a reason why for example ingredient shortage, manufacturing issue, batch failed quality control - whether the item is going to be discotinued or not - if not a predicted date for supplies to resume.  Ideally such a list to be updated weekly though monthly would be better than nothing.

Also a list of medicines subject to quota with an explanation of how to request stock.

This way I would be able to give patients some information instead of looking stupid whilst telling them that I don't have any idea about what is going on!

Tired Manager, Community pharmacist

Where's the bit about not supplying you with a product but supplying the pharmacy down the road with a higher spend?

Farhat Ahmed, Locum pharmacist

What is the timetable for visits, when do I expect a vist? Or let me guess visits are only for the elite few

Mike Hewitson, Superintendent Pharmacist


Send them to me. 

Appalling service levels. Profiteering. Anti-competitive behaviours. Conflicts of interest..... 

I could go on. 


Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

I have a funny feeling our names are on a number of "no contact" lists, Mike...

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

Maybe they could explain the "unexplained growth in profits" they've experienced ( while pharmacies have had to rely on dozens of concessions each and every month to ensure they're at least approaching fair reimbursement for generics

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

Why not invite pharmacist to the local depot

John Cleese, Production & Technical

I'll just explain to my patients that they are running out of medicine because of Acts Of God. Feels that way sometimes.

Nalin Shah, Community pharmacist



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