Medicine deliveries to community pharmacies disrupted by fuel crisis

Despite some issues with fuel supply affecting pharmacies in parts of England, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee says “there currently appears to be no issue with supply of medicines into the country”.
Medicine delivery

Community pharmacies in parts of England have missed out on scheduled deliveries of medicines, owing to shortages of lorry drivers and fuel, pharmacy negotiators have said.

In a statement issued on 27 September 2021, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said the transport issues are affecting some areas of the country more than others, as “different wholesalers have different ways they access fuel supplies”.

“The feedback we have been getting from contractors suggests a mixed picture across the country, with the supply situation undoubtedly worse now for some pharmacies,” the statement said.

“Today some pharmacies were affected by missed deliveries following events over the weekend.”  

However, it added that “there currently appears to be no issue with supply of medicines into the country”.

Gordon Hockey, legal director at the PSNC, said the negotiator had received “reassurance that the government will consider whether further steps are necessary to support the medicines supply chain if needed”. 

“The continued patient access to medicines is testament to the robustness of the medicines supply chain,” he said.  

This comes as the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA), which represents pharmacy wholesalers, said in a statement that wholesalers’ business continuity plans — designed to maintain resilience in the supply chain — are “being severely tested, as fuel supplies are not as available as we would like from normal sources”.

It added that, as a result, the disruption to normal delivery schedules could continue “for most of this week”.

To maintain supply of medicines to patients, the HDA said it is in talks with the government about providing wholesalers with priority access to fuel.

This call has been echoed by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA), which said the government should prioritise “fuel provision for healthcare workers,” including pharmacists, “and for those delivering supplies of medicines and clinical equipment”.

“Whether or not there is a national fuel shortage, the fact is many of our members are finding it extremely difficult to source fuel for their vehicles and this puts at risk their ability to attend their workplaces, care for patients and ensure both the safety of and the supply of medicines,” the PDA said.

Claire Anderson, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said patients “should order and collect their prescription in the usual way”.

“As normal, pharmacists are working with patients to ensure they get the medicines they need. We’re not aware that the problems with fuel supplies are stopping patients getting their medicines,” she said.

READ MORE: Treasury promises £434m to support medicines supply chain after no-deal Brexit

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, September 2021, Vol 307, No 7953;307(7953)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.107463

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