12 Jul 2016

More than 90 per cent of community pharmacists say medication shortages are getting worse

Nine out of ten pharmacists say medication shortages have become more difficult and time consuming to manage in the last year.


According to the results of a new survey of pharmacists, undertaken ahead of the Clanwilliam Pharmacist Awards, 63 per cent of pharmacists said dealing with shortages had become ‘significantly worse’ while 29 per cent of pharmacists said dealing with shortages had become ‘somewhat worse’.


The finding comes at a time when the issue of medication shortages is hitting headlines across the world with Canada currently facing a massive shortage of drugs needed by patients with epilepsy, while in New Zealand pharmacies have had to ration a common heart medication due to the difficulties in sourcing the medicine. Here in Ireland, medicines including those used to treat thyroid problems as well as some contraceptives and Hormone Replacement Therapy medicines are increasingly difficult to source.


Pharmacist and Chair of the Clanwilliam Pharmacist Awards, Ultan Molloy said the current difficulties sourcing medicines are simply unacceptable. “Shortages can delay therapeutic treatment and have a serious impact on patient health. Such shortages are also a major source of anxiety, as patients can become understandably worried in cases where they don’t know whether or not they will be able to access a medicine. For pharmacists, shortages serve as a major frustration as many are spending increasing amounts of their time tracking down medicines for patients due to supply shortages. This is taking them away from other valuable services they can provide for patients. Most people would agree that the pharmacist’s value is in providing patient facing care and not spending hours on the phone sourcing medicines, or tracking down prescribers to advise them on alternatives for our patients,” said Mr Molloy.


The survey also revealed more than a quarter of pharmacists are spending between five and ten hours a week clarifying or correcting prescriptions. A further 59 per cent of pharmacists spend between one and five hours of their working week checking the details on prescriptions are correct.


It also provided an insight into the excellent relationship between pharmacists and patients and highlighted how an overwhelming 92 per cent of pharmacists feel their work is valued by their patients, with 44 per cent saying it is highly valued. 91 per cent felt that trustworthy advice was the quality most valued by their patients in the patient/customer relationship.


More than 50 per cent of those surveyed said technology had helped them to become more efficient and 32 per cent said they could make more use of technology to help them do their job. The survey was undertaken in partnership with Clanwilliam Health, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of leading healthcare, technology and services company Clanwilliam Group, the title sponsor of the 2016 Clanwilliam Pharmacist Awards. The Awards aim to celebrate pharmacy and raise awareness of the outstanding work being undertaken by pharmacists across the country. The Awards also raise vital funds for the Pharmacy Benevolent Fund.


“We are excited to partner on the delivery of the Clanwilliam Pharmacist Awards, which recognise excellence in the sector. This survey reflects the fact that pharmacists are forward thinking and embracing of the power and possibilities implied by new technologies and new services," said Jennifer Hughes, Director of Marketing, Clanwilliam Health.“We are continually impressed by the pharmacists who invest so much both professionally and personally so it is a genuine pleasure for us to help honour their successes.”


Nominations for this year’s Clanwilliam Pharmacist Awards are now being accepted in ten different categories including the coveted Patient Nominated Award, which is bestowed on a pharmacist working in the community each year. Patients can nominate their local pharmacist for the Patient Nominated Award by logging on to www.pharmacistawards.com . Pharmacists can also nominate colleagues working in community, hospital and industry settings at the same address.

The closing date for nominations for the Awards is Tuesday, July 26. The 2016 Clanwilliam Pharmacist Awards will take place at the Mansion House, Dublin on Saturday, November 26.