Ireland experiencing acute shortage of medicines and it's ‘getting worse’

Ireland is experiencing an acute shortage of medicines and the situation is getting worse, a new study shows.

The shortages include contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy drugs, according to a survey of pharmacists nationwide.

More than 90% of Irish pharmacists say medication shortages have become more difficult and time-consuming to manage in the past year.

According to the results of the survey conducted on behalf of Clanwilliam, a healthcare technology and services group, 63% of pharmacists said dealing with shortages had become “significantly worse”, while 29% of pharmacists said dealing with shortages had become ”somewhat worse”.

The finding comes at a time when the issue of medication shortages is hitting headlines across the world, with Canada currently facing a massive shortage of drugs needed by patients with epilepsy, while in New Zealand pharmacies have had to ration a common heart medication due to the difficulties in sourcing it.

It is not clear why shortages are being experienced and this aspect was not included in the study.

Here in Ireland, medicines, including those used to treat thyroid problems, as well as some contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medicines are increasingly difficult to source.

Pharmacist and chair of the Clanwilliam Pharmacist Awards, Ultan Molloy, said the current difficulties sourcing medicines are unacceptable. “Shortages can delay therapeutic treatment and have a serious impact on patient health. Such shortages are also a major source of anxiety, as patients can become understandably worried in cases where they don’t know whether or not they will be able to access a medicine,” said Mr Molloy.

The survey also revealed more than a quarter of pharmacists are spending between five and 10 hours a week clarifying or correcting prescriptions.

A further 59% spend between one and five hours of their working week checking the details on prescriptions are correct.

It also provided an insight into the relationship between pharmacists and patients and highlighted how 92% of pharmacists feel their work is valued by their patients, with 44% saying it is highly valued. Meanwhile, 91% felt that trustworthy advice was the quality most valued by patients in a pharmacist.

The survey was undertaken in partnership with Clanwilliam Health, which is a subsidiary of Clanwilliam Group, the title sponsor of the 2016 Clanwilliam Pharmacist Awards. The Awards aim to raise awareness of the work being undertaken by pharmacists.

“We are excited to partner on the delivery of the Clanwilliam Pharmacist Awards, which recognise excellence in the sector,” said Jennifer Hughes, director of marketing, Clanwilliam Health.

Nominations for this year’s awards are now being accepted and patients can nominate their local pharmacist by logging on to


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