UK drugs being diverted abroad

Drug shortages are occurring in the UK because pharmacists are selling medicines to overseas suppliers, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has said.

Although shortages have been reported, figures show manufacturers provide 'more than enough' stock, it said.

But data suggest 12,600 UK pharmacies and a 'tiny number' of dispensing doctors are exporting medicines meant for the UK market, the ABPI said.

Prescription drugs tend to be cheaper in the UK than elsewhere in Europe. This discrepancy and the weak pound has created an incentive to sell medicines overseas for profit.

Dr David Baker, chief executive of the Dispensing Doctors' Association, urged dispensing doctors not to sell drugs abroad. 'Our advice is that you really should not. It is legal, but ethically questionable.'

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