UK is facing its worst drug shortage problem. Patients do not have access to necessary medications like anti-depressants and painkillers. If no timely solution is sort out, the situation can multiply.
The issue isn’t a new one and has occurred well in the past before. However, the extent of the shortage currently has broken all historical records. Patients have to either wait in line outside drug stores are all simply informed about the shortage.
The medicines ordered are taking weeks and in some cases months to arrive at their required destination.
The problem started in October with 45 medicines on the list of “shortage drugs.” There was a massive increase in November and now the situation stands at 80 medicines currently on the list.
While England is the country most affected, the shortage of medicines has also encompassed regions of Scotland and Wales.
Moreover, economically speaking, the shortage has also led to a massive increase in the available (and alternative) drugs in the black market.
How it affects the patient?
For obvious reasons, patients are the ones at the receiving end of this problem. A shortage of medicine has meant a delay in the treatment. It could also mean the illness to get severe with time if nothing is done to counter it. Moreover, people at the lower income bracket have also protested against the surge in the prices.
If the medicine is available, then getting a prescription may be okay. In other cases, doctors try finding the second-best alternative. At times, that doesn’t prove to be entirely effective.
For example, UK citizens with Fibromyalgia are normally prescribed naproxen to lessen the intensity of pain. However, doctors are recommending lesser-used ibuprofen as a viable alternative. Patients have complained about the ineffectiveness of the said medicine yet sadly, their cries are of no use.
It is important to note that naproxen medicine has been in short for almost 4 months now. In drug stores, where it is available, patients usually have to wait hours only to find that all the supply has been used up.
In other cases, the situation has also flourished the sales of the black market. The medicine is sold illegally at prices higher than usual. Unfortunately considering the extent of the problem, people are ready to pay any given price for the medicine.
What is the future like?
Pharmacists are unsure about the timing of this shortage. They feel it is not the right time to give out a final clear statement. According to many, it may continue for months. However, if the problem is effectively controlled then medicines can arrive in the store in no given time.
Experts have been able to identify some possible causes of the problem. Although no final contributory factor is known yet we can possibly analyze what might have led to the situation in the first place.
Primarily, there has been an increased in global demand. Since a lot of the anti-depressants and painkillers are imported from abroad, the UK has to wait until its demand is entirely satisfied. This coupled with an increase in the prices of raw materials has only festered the already existing problem.
Only time is the best judge of the current situation. What the UK government does with regards to medicines shortage remains yet to be seen.