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Shortage of drugs led pharmacists to warn "the consequences could be further hospital admissions or even fatalities"         "They will not explain their imposed quota system and they will not discuss the issue directly." Shortages were "out of hand and nearing catastrophe" - Andrew McCoig, the chief executive of the NHS pharmaceutical committee for Merton, Sutton         "Before the introduction of manufacturers' quotas, the market for medicines worked effectively. No longer can patients be assured that if they walk into a pharmacy their medication will be available immediately or within an acceptable timescale." - Calderdale and Kirklees local pharmaceutical committee         Four in five NHS trusts in England & Wales say patients are suffering "unacceptable" delays for drugs         Lives at risk by shortage of critical medicines because pharmaceutical companies are rationing drugs, NHS leaders warn         A survey of 60 NHS authorities found that the shortage was doing patients "serious harm", with patients facing delays of up to 6 months - (The Telegraph 22 June 2012)         Imposed rationing to stop sale of drugs abroad has made the shortages much worse, say NHS leaders and pharmacies. - (The Telegraph 22 June 2012)         "The current restriction in supply imposed by drug companies is harming the public and must be addressed urgently." - Prof John Parkes, the chief executive of NHS Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire



The British Independent Pharmacy and Wholesale Association represents pharmacies and wholesalers together as they are both involved in the medicines supply chain which is vital for the protection of patients. The body is unique in this respect as many pharmacies are now routinely exporting and importing medicines into and out of the UK.

The restrictions on the availability of medicines (supply chain) which are only prevalent in the UK and not in the EU covers many aspects of law and the supply interruption affects wholesalers, pharmacies and patients alike. The National Pharmaceutical Association (NPA) represents pharmacies and the British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers represents the 'interests' of the pharmaceutical industry, including the three largest pharmaceutical wholesalers in the UK.


The shortages of drugs in the UK have increased over the last two years despite the efforts of the Department of Health Supply Chain Group. The reasons for the shortage cover public law issues, the Medicines Act 1968, Competition Act 1998 and European Competition law and as such no public regulatory body is able to act or has understood how to act to resolve this matter. The public perception of the issue is that wholesalers and unscrupulous pharmacists exporting medicines are to blame. Newspaper article upon article has been written attributing fault to the wholesalers and pharmacies with little in response to allow reasoned debate.


The purpose of BIPWA is to ensure our members and the sector we represent exceed the regulatory and safety demands of the supply chain and that they continue to conduct business that adds value to the UK health economy.


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