Simon Harris: Ireland 'unlikely' to see medicine supply shortage

The Department of Health has said international authorities, including the European Medicines Agency, remain “vigilant to any potential risk”.
Simon Harris: Ireland 'unlikely' to see medicine supply shortage

Minister for Health Simon Harris has urged people not to panic-buy medicines as Ireland is “unlikely” to face any supply issues.

And the Department of Health has said international authorities, including the European Medicines Agency, remain “vigilant to any potential risk”.

And officials say: “In the event there are some supply issues for individual medicines, it is expected that alternative brands will be available to ensure continuity of treatment.”

The department insisted there have been no reports of Covid-19 impacting on the general supply of medicines to Ireland.

“There are already additional stocks of medicines routinely built into the Irish medicine supply chain,” they said.

Therefore, Ireland is unlikely to face general medicines supply issues now or in the near future as a result of any potential delays in the supply chain caused by Covid-19 related issues.

They also said that in the case of medicines used most often in Ireland, there are typically multiple forms and brands available from a range of sources.

Ireland has an existing Medicine Shortages Framework in place to help “prevent shortages from occurring and to reduce the impact of shortages” on patients and healthcare professionals.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority co-ordinates the management of potential or actual shortages as they arise, in cooperation with a range of stakeholders.

However, the department said, “this is very much based on normal use of medicines”.

And they insisted: “There is no need for hospitals or healthcare professionals to order extra quantities of medicines, or for doctors to issue additional prescriptions.

Similarly, patients and the general public are asked not to seek supplies of medicines over and above their normal requirements.

“Doing so will disrupt existing stock levels and hamper the supply of medicines for others.”

Mr Harris said: “I want to remind patients and the general public not to seek supplies of medicines over and above their normal requirements.

“Doing so will hamper the supply of medicines for others.”

He was speaking after he announced a number of urgent legislative measures designed to relieve pressures on pharmacists and GPs.

Key amendments being introduced include the electronic transfer of prescriptions to remove the requirement for a paper copy of a prescription.

And he has also increased the maximum period of validity of a prescription from six to nine months of the date specified on the prescription.

Mr Harris said: "We are asking people to stay home. We know many people will still require access to important medicines and that is why we are introducing these measures.

"The changes we will make today will relieve the pressure on GPs and pharmacists. Crucially, it will reduce the need for people to visit their GP or pharmacy during this pandemic.”

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department - if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999

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