Ireland is experiencing shortages of hundreds of medicines, several of which are considered “critical” for patients, new figures indicate.
According to the latest date from the Medicine Shortage Index, 247 medicines are out of stock in Ireland – 19 more than the end of January. 13 of these feature on the World Health Organisation’s “critical medicines” list.
Medicines that are lacking include essential antibiotics like Penicillin and Amoxicillin, inhalers, and medications that treat high blood pressure, epilepsy, and hayfever, to name a few.
Even more common products like eye drops, as well as over-the-counter medicine for coughs and colds are starting to become difficult to acquire.
Notably, industry experts at Azure Pharmaceuticals, which collects data for the Index, has said that plastic-based medical products are starting to become more and more scarce.
“Medicines that use plastics in their delivery, so products like nasal sprays, inhalers and eye drops are now on the medicines index for the first time in numbers,” said Sandra Gannon, the group’s chief executive.
“And obviously coming into hayfever season some of these medicines are critical for patients.”
Gannon went on to add that this shortage could have wide-reading implications, including medicines potentially being taken off the market altogether.
“I think we need some meaningful dialogue,” she said.
“We need to look at this in the short term, and we need to look at this in the long term. This problem is not going to just go away.
“It’s not just shortages, we are talking about medicines being withdrawn from markets.”
Through the trend of medicine shortages began as far back as 2019, it’s understood that the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated supply chain issues, making the problem significantly worse. This was further compounded by the Ukraine war.
Gannon said that it was “time to reflect on the learnings of Covid, broaden our manufacturing base, and de-risk our dependency on particular markets.”