Drug shortages tracker helps GPs avoid prescribing out-of-stock medicines

GPs across the UK could avoid wasting thousands of hours prescribing out-of-stock medicines by consulting a live drug shortages tracker developed by medicines experts.

Medicine shortages (Photo: Westend61/Getty Images)
Medicine shortages (Photo: Westend61/Getty Images)

The free drug shortages tracker has been developed by GPonline's sister website MIMS in response to calls from top GPs for an 'early warning system' to flag up medicine shortages.

GPonline reported earlier this year that nine out of 10 GPs had seen an increase in medicines they prescribe becoming unavailable over the past 12 months.

One in three GPs spend more than an hour a week writing new prescriptions for second-choice drugs, a survey found, and many doctors forced to prescribe alternative medicines say that patients have been negatively affected, including coming to harm or experiencing a slower recovery.

GP prescribing

The MIMS drug shortages tracker has been developed to help reduce growing GP prescribing workload linked to medicines that have become unavailable.

The number of drugs on a shortage supply list maintained by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) reached a record high in March this year.

The PSNC has said that Brexit is not to blame for medicines shortages - and has warned that the government's decision to extend the deadline for leaving the EU to October will not ease the problem.

GPC clinical and prescribing lead Dr Andrew Green said earlier this month that medicine supply issues had become ‘a daily headache’ for GPs. ‘The first a GP may know of a shortage is when a patient returns to them upset that they have been unable to get hold of the medication prescribed,' he said.

Drug shortages

‘While Brexit has the potential to exacerbate this, GPs and pharmacists have been working for some time to deal with shortages and it is imperative that governments take the ongoing situation seriously regardless of the wider political climate.’

MIMS editor Chloe Harman said: 'We hope that by flagging medicines supply issues the new tracker will reduce the time already overstretched GPs spend dealing with the consequences of such shortages.

'We encourage prescribers to let us know about any other potential shortages they're aware of so we can develop the tracker into a comprehensive list over time.'

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