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Why drug shortages occur

Abstract

Drug shortages are recognised as being an important global issue1 that cause significant problems by delaying, and in some cases even preventing access to essential medicines.2 In the UK, problems caused by drug shortages have led to an enquiry by the All-Party Pharmacy Group (APPG)3,4 and publication of best practice guidance by the Department of Health (DH) working in conjunction with the manufacturers of branded and generic medicines.58 Widespread shortages of medicines commonly prescribed in primary care are now a regular occurrence and have significant impact on patients and healthcare professionals. In this article we discuss the reasons why shortages occur, how shortages are being addressed at a national and international level and what actions need to be taken to help minimise the impact on patients.

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