Pharmacists are facing shortages of up to 300 medicines

The president of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has said there is currently a shortage of approximately 300 medicines in Ireland.

This includes those treating common medical conditions such as diabetes, blood pressure, Parkinson’s and ADHD.

Tom Murray told the IPU’s annual conference in Athlone today that this is putting “phenomenal pressure” on pharmacists across the country, with many facing burnout, while describing the impact as “unfair ” that it is having on patients.

He said some pharmacists can spend up to nine hours a week trying to resolve supply issues, leading to frustration among members chasing “drug shortages instead of spending that time caring for patients”.

The IPU has warned that most pharmacists fear it will become an even bigger problem over the coming year.

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Around 84% of pharmacists surveyed by the UIP say they expect this problem to get worse over the next 12 months.

The union also revealed that all pharmacies in Ireland have been challenged by drug shortages in the past four months.

Pharmacists have warned that drug shortages can have a serious impact on patients and their families.

Murray said the situation is particularly dire for children with ADHD, where he said there are incidents where children are unable to return to school because they cannot receive their medication on time.

He said patients suffer from delays in getting important treatment as pharmacists try to get the medicine they need.

The IPU has said that all this highlights the need to take action to tackle this serious shortcoming, including legislation that is flexible enough to find solutions for patients.

Murray said pharmacists currently have their “hands tied to a degree.”

He said they are asking the Minister of Health to speed up the planned implementation of a severe shortage protocol so that pharmacists can prescribe alternative medicine in certain circumstances.

Murray said he is hopeful it will be in action by early fall.

Speaking at the conference, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the legislation is now before the Dil and he believes it will pass through all houses in the next four weeks.

He said there is a panel of experts that will provide protocols to pharmacists to inform them what substitutions can be made in terms of medications.

She said she also wants pharmacists to be more empowered in general in the future so they can provide more services to people in the community.

“Incredibly stressful”

Caoimhe McAuley, pharmacist and vice-president of the UIP, said there are now more conversations with patients about drug shortages and that includes very common drugs.

He said he also spends more and more time on the phone with providers trying to get drugs.

Ms McCauley said it is incredibly stressful for patients and especially for those looking for medicines that are not available.

“For these patients, the first emotion is stress and panic at the thought of not being able to get these medications, and unfortunately, getting these medications can take some time,” he said.

The union also reiterates its call for the immediate appointment of a pharmaceutical director (CPP).

Tom Murray said a CPP is a crucial and integral position for most developed health systems and would “facilitate the development of a strategic vision for community-based pharmaceutical care, ultimately improving patient services.” .

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