The Risks of Inconsistent Medication Supply

The Risks of Inconsistent Medication Supply


“Pharmacy bingo,” where patients must visit multiple pharmacies to find their medication, starkly illustrates the severity of the issue. Community Pharmacy England reports that some patients are forced to use less medication than needed, a common issue in many of England’s pharmacies.


Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy England, describes the situation as a constant struggle, profoundly affecting patients daily and leading to significant frustration and anxiety.

A survey involving over 6,000 pharmacies and 2,000 staff revealed that nearly all pharmacies face supply issues at least weekly, with 72% experiencing multiple problems daily. These shortages not only inconvenience patients but also jeopardise their health, with 79% of pharmacy staff noting that patient health is at risk.


Paul Rees, head of the National Pharmacy Association, has urged the government to urgently reform the UK’s fragile medicine supply system to ensure pharmacies can fulfil their roles and patients can access their essential medications promptly.


The ongoing medication shortages expose deep systemic issues and pose significant health risks, particularly to individuals reliant on consistent medication access.


For those with trigeminal neuralgia and other facial pain disorders, these disruptions can lead to severe pain episodes and may even necessitate emergency care, underscoring the urgency of this health issue.


Practical Guide for Managing Medication Shortages


If you’re facing medication shortages, here are some effective steps to manage them:


Consult Your GP: Discuss potential substitutions with your GP, particularly if they differ in strength or formulation. They can adjust your dosing schedule accordingly.


Check Multiple Pharmacies: Do not limit yourself to one pharmacy. Explore large chains and independent pharmacies, which may have different stock levels.


Understand Medication Types: Familiarise yourself with the differences between extended-release and immediate-release medications. Extended release provides steady effects, while immediate-release acts quickly but may require more frequent dosing.


Monitor for Side Effects: Be vigilant about

medication shortage
medication shortage

new or worsening side effects when switching medications and report them to your GP.


Regular Follow-up: Maintain regular check-ins with your GP to assess the effectiveness of any new medication and make necessary adjustments.


Educate Yourself: Read the patient information leaflet included with your medication to understand proper usage, potential side effects, and other critical information.


Inform Your GP: Keep your GP updated about any shortages. They can prescribe alternatives or approve substitutions if your usual medication is unavailable.


Plan Ahead: Reorder your prescriptions well in advance to avoid running out of medication.

Seek Support: Contact patient advocacy groups for advice. They often have current information on medication availability.


Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with medication supply news to better anticipate and manage your needs.


As someone deeply committed to addressing these issues, I have written to the minister to highlight these problems and am actively seeking solutions to ensure those affected by trigeminal neuralgia and facial pain receive the reliable care they need.


“As someone who has witnessed the debilitating impact of trigeminal neuralgia, I can confidently say it is among the worst pain many medical professionals have ever encountered. Our members’ need for consistent access to medication isn’t just a necessity—it’s critical. They must be prioritised to ensure they can manage their conditions effectively and maintain their quality of life.”