LONDON, December 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) today announced that it will be calling on government to take urgent action to resolve the immediate crisis in medicines availability to prevent patients being put at risk of potential serious harm as a result of being unable to obtain appropriate medication. The RPSGB Council has taken this step in response to increasing stock shortages across a range of widely supplied medicines for chronic conditions, shortages which appear in recent months to have worsened. Additionally the Society will be formally approaching the government to ask for the urgent establishment of an Inquiry into the supply of medicines to pharmacies to find a long term solution to this problem.

Currently over 40 well known medicines are officially acknowledged to be in short supply. These fall across a wide range of therapeutic categories and include among many others, anti hypertensives, epilepsy treatments, and even some medicines to treat cancer and prevent rejection following organ transplantation.

Pharmacists have been reporting increasing and notable shortages to the Society and other bodies. The main problem appears to stem from the weakness of sterling in comparison to the Euro; a weakness which has increased the demand for UK sourced medicines as the supply of parallel-imported medicines from EU member states has dwindled as their relative cost has risen. The economic variance has led too, to an increase in the export of UK sourced medicines into Europe where they have become competively priced. According to RPSGB President Steve Churton, the situation is complex. The reason for the Society taking this action is our concern for patients who cannot get the treatment they need at the time they need it. Our members are spending long fruitless hours chasing down supplies which are increasingly difficult to obtain.

Medicines manufacture has a long lead time and arguably more medicines may still not reach UK patients if the result of more manufacturing simply means more exporting. In the meantime, all parties involved in the medicines supply chain are blaming each other for the problem. The Society fears that if we do not identify a solution through real understanding of the problem, then patient care will continue to suffer. We are asking the government to take immediate action to ensure that the UK medicines supply is maintained at the appropriate level to guarantee patient care. We also want to see an independent inquiry into the issue to develop long term solutions to prevent this situation ever occurring again.

Notes to Editors:

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) is the professional body for pharmacists and the regulatory body for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in England, Scotland and Wales. The primary objectives of the Society are to lead, regulate, develop and represent the profession of pharmacy.

The RPSGB leads and supports the development of the profession within the context of the public benefit. This includes the advancement of science, practice, education and knowledge in pharmacy. In addition, it promotes the profession's policies and views to a range of external stakeholders in a number of different forums.

Following the publication in 2007 of the Government White Paper Trust, Assurance and Safety - The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century, the Society is working towards the demerger of its regulatory and professional roles. This will see the establishment of a new General Pharmaceutical Council and a new professional body for pharmacy in 2010.

SOURCE: The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB)

CONTACT: For media enquiries please contact the Royal PharmaceuticalSociety of Great Britains Public Relations Unit, +44(0)20-7572-2476