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Medicine shortages reach record high as problem continues to escalate

By Irish Pharmacist - 01st Aug 2023

  • Shortages increased by 95 medicines since January, up 45 per cent in six months, 81 per cent in 12 months.
  • Severe shortages of low dose aspirin, cholesterol and blood pressure medications, and nebulising solution for asthma and COPD.
  • 36 per cent of out-of-stock medicines found to have just one supplier.

The number of medicines in short supply has reached a new record high of 307, as Ireland hits a troubling milestone in the escalating crisis, according to the latest Medicine Shortages Index. It is the ninth consecutive month of rising shortages with the increase of out-of-stock medicines 81 per cent higher than this time last year.

The Index highlights persisting instability in Ireland’s medicine supply with shortages increasing by 95 medicines since the beginning of January, up 45 per cent in just six months.

The latest shortages analysis indicates a new severe scarcity of commonly used medicines to treat cholesterol and high blood pressure, including some 17 statins currently out-of-stock.

The Medicine Shortage Index, prepared by Azure Pharmaceuticals, analyses data made publicly available by the Health Products Regulatory Authority.

Commenting, Ms Sandra Gannon, Chief Executive, Azure Pharmaceuticals, said: “We have now exceeded the milestone marker of 300, with 307 medicines out-of-stock. We started reporting this problem when the number of shortages stood at approximately 165. The trend is clear.”

“Recent research illustrated the worsening impact of the issue with 60 per cent of the public impacted by shortages in the past year alone. Those countries who have adjusted their approach in response to this supply crisis are faring better than those who have not. Regrettably, at a policy level, Ireland is yet to acknowledge the cause and effect of this problem. On that basis, things look set to get worse before they get better.”  

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