Medicine shortages remain ‘stubbornly high’ in Ireland with a number of ‘critical medicines’ unavailable along with over 10 hay fever treatments as the pollen count increases.
The number of medicines currently out-of-stock in Ireland remains “stubbornly high at 241″, indicating a continued level of vulnerability in the country’s medicine supply, according to the latest Medicine Shortages Index.
The Index highlights persisting signs of instability in Ireland’s medicine supply, with serious implications for patients who rely on medicines for their health and well-being.
The latest analysis indicates continued shortages of as many as 30 antibiotic medicines, despite the reduction in seasonal demand, and also shortages of many eye drops including those used to treat allergies just as demand is starting to peak.
13 currently unavailable medicines are listed on the World Medical Organisation’s (WHO) ‘critical medicines’ list.
Shortages are also being encountered in treatments of allergic eye conditions including hayfever with 11 eye drops unavailable
The Medicine Shortage Index, prepared by industry experts, Azure Pharmaceuticals, analyses data made publicly available by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).
Month-on-month Index figures suggest a small improvement in the crisis in May, but feedback from pharmacists indicates the problems with medicine shortages are far from resolved.
Sandra Gannon, CEO of Azure Pharmaceuticals said: “In Ireland, the medicine shortages crisis is persisting due to a lack of political interest in gaining a real understanding of the off-patent medicines industry”.
“The underlying systematic problem is only going to worsen unless the issue is meaningfully addressed,” said Ms Gannon.
She noted that several other European nations have taken policy measures to address the ongoing medicine shortages crisis across the continent, as it becomes further apparent that commercial reasons are one of the primary drivers of the crisis.
“The EU recently published a long-awaited proposed overhaul of laws governing the European Union’s pharmaceuticals industry, but the reforms will not effectively address medicine shortages since they do not consider the rising costs and decreasing prices that affect the accessibility of older medicines in Europe,” Ms Gannon said.
“The EU reforms do not fully address all the causes of medicine shortages. The proposals look set to increase the administration and reporting requirements on shortages, as well as compel manufacturers to continue to supply long after it is commercially viable,” Ms Gannon said.
“This could potentially lead to decreased competition within the industry. Reducing the number of suppliers will only exacerbate existing shortages, and potentially lead to further medicine discontinuations.
“In the Irish context, a concern is that the unintended consequences of this long-awaited legislation could prompt manufacturers to exit smaller markets such as Ireland, turning a persisting medicine shortages issue into a chronic problem.
“Ireland’s present cost saving approach is actually a false positive because the lower the prices and volumes, the less attractive the market is for manufacturers. This can leave few suppliers for some critical medicines,” Ms Gannon said.
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