Hospitals 'run out of drugs as stocks are sold abroad' by at least 19 NHS trustsMedicine for high blood pressure, asthma and Parkinson's running short
Manufacturers can make more profit selling overseas
23:06 GMT, 27 April 2012
Hospitals are running out of vital drugs to treat high blood pressure, asthma and Parkinson's disease because they are being sold abroad
Hospitals are running out of vital drugs to treat high blood pressure, asthma and Parkinson’s disease because they are being sold abroad.
At least 19 NHS trusts across England have written to the Department of Health since September to warn of shortages, according to figures obtained by Labour MP Keith Vaz.
There are concerns that drugs manufactured in Britain, meant for NHS patients, are being sold to EU countries by wholesalers and pharmacists.
Fluctuations in exchange rates mean manufacturers can make more profit selling overseas.
Although the practice is not illegal, the Government has condemned it as unethical and there are concerns that patients are being put at risk.
Mr Vaz said: ‘The Government must not wait until a patient loses their life due to the shortages to take action.
‘I am worried that we are manufacturing medicines for this country and they are being sold abroad. It’s shameful.’
Mr Vaz said eight pharmacies in his constituency had contacted him about the problem in the past week alone.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: 'The health of some of the most vulnerable patients is being put at risk because the medicines they need just aren't available.
At least 19 NHS trusts have written to the Department of Health since September to warn of shortages, according to figures obtained by Labour MP Keith Vaz (above)
'Having access to the medicines prescribed by your doctor when you need them is a basic right that all patients should be able to expect.'
The drugs currently in short supply include those to treat high blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma, diabetes, Parkinson's Disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and depression.
The Department of Health said: ‘We continue to work with representatives of the medicines supply chain – including industry and wholesalers – to minimise the impact of shortages.’
Earlier this year, a survey of 300 pharmacies by Chemist and Druggist magazine found that one in five people spent more than an hour on the phone every day trying to find drugs.
And more than half said it took at least three days for an emergency supply for the drugs they had run out of to arrive.
Another 85 per cent said they were 'very concerned' that patients were being adversely affected as a result.