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UK patients miss out as drugs sold abroad

16th February 2010

Experts have warned that the lives of UK patients are being put in danger because of drug companies and wholesalers limiting the stock available to pharmacies.

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The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain said sellers were targeting the overseas markets in order to 'maximise profit'.

The Society said many pharmacies were seeing a deficiency in more than 40 popular medicines used to treat cancer and epilepsy patients.

The issue appears to have sprung from the pound's weakness, which means that putting medicines for sale abroad results in a higher profit.

The Society said UK pharmacists have to spend 'hours' finding more drugs when they run out, because of limited supply from wholesalers and manufacturers. The medicines can often take a long time to arrive.

David Pruce, Director of Policy for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said patients' lives were being put in danger.

"We're already seeing patients going without their medicines for days and potentially weeks," he said. "It's only a matter of time before it becomes much more serious."

The Department of Health said it would hold an emergency summit in March to investigate the problem.

"It is a very few unscrupulous people that are putting profits before patients," said the Health Minister, Mike O'Brien.

"Rather than selling drugs to NHS patients as they should, they are selling them abroad for greater profit."

 

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