There are fears of a shortage of cough syrups and other common medicines in pharmacies nationwide this month.
The ongoing Calpol shortage is expected to worsen as the ongoing surge of flu, Covid-19 and RSV continues.
Many other over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, sprays for sore throats, and the majority of cough bottles have been in high demand but are difficult to get, with pharmacists left scrabbling for alternatives.
The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), the country’s medicines watchdog, reports that 212 medicines are now unavailable in Ireland at the moment – compared with 187 last month.
The medicines experiencing shortages are for use across a range of health areas, including respiratory and bacterial infections, strep throat, pneumonia, pain relief and blood pressure.
Common medicines such as Amoxicillin and Penicillin and Cefalexin/Cephalexin are also unavailable. The shortage of Clarithromycin, used to combat strep throat and pneumonia, is also causing growing pressure as the three suppliers of the medicine—who account for over 50% of the market—are now also out of stock.
“For the second month running, we are seeing the scale of medicine shortages in Ireland and resulting impact on patients and those who care for them. It is the continuation of a trend that was first evident at the end of 2019 and has been continually worsening in the period since”, says Sandra Gannon, Managing Director of Azure Pharmaceuticals, which prepared the Medicines Shortage Index based on the HPRA data.
“At a time when we are desperately trying to keep people out of our hospitals and provide adequate care in the community, leaving patients without access to their vital treatments has huge knock-on implications for the current crisis in our emergency departments. Existing high-level of sicknesses and hospital demand pressures risk being exacerbated further by the medicines shortages problems.”
Azure Pharmaceuticals say the reason for the shortage is down to global and domestic factors “but it is increasingly clear that Ireland is an outlier when compared to neighbouring countries.”
“The government has been slow to even acknowledge the problem resulting in an inadequate response to date,” they said.
“Opening the door to alternative sources for medicines which are currently single-source dependant needs to be fast-tracked.”