Each year the NHS issues around one billion prescriptions in the UK community. Around 13,000 pharmacies issue over 90% of these prescriptions, with the rest being issued by over 5,500 dispensing doctors.
Medicines are broadly supplied in two ways: firstly by manufacturers selling to wholesalers, who in turn sell them on to pharmacies and hospitals, and secondly by manufacturers selling direct to pharmacies and paying distributors or wholesalers a fixed fee for delivery.
Medicines are generally delivered on time, and as expected, but, although there is actually more than enough medicines supply to satisfy demand in the UK, there is still not enough getting through to the front line. This means that many medicines have to be delivered by emergency arrangements put in place by manufacturers.
The Government, along with key stakeholders in the industry, has taken a number of measures to strengthen the supply chain.
The pharmaceutical industry in the UK is committed to maintaining a reliable supply of medicines, and the ABPI is working to find a sustainable solution.
We have highlighted to the Government that fresh action is needed to guarantee supplies to UK patients. We will continue to participate in the Department of Health Supply Chain Shortages Forum, co-operating with all participants in the supply chain to address patient need.