One in five prescription interventions relate to drug shortages

One in five prescription interventions made by community pharmacists relate to medicines shortages, suggest the findings of an audit. In the image, a pharmacist in a dispensary looks at a few medicine boxes

One in five prescription interventions made by community pharmacists relate to medicines shortages, suggest the findings of an audit[1]
published on 8 July 2015.

A drug shortage was the most common reason for a prescription intervention, the audit report reveals, providing fresh evidence that the issue is unresolved, according to Pharmacy Voice spokesperson Gareth Jones.

“We’ve talked a lot about supply chain problems for the past six years and these figures show that the problem is not going away,” says Jones. “It’s something that pharmacists are now seeing as part of their day-to-day life, which is a distraction from a pharmacist’s core role and is unacceptable.”

Pharmacy Voice wants wholesalers to have to provide products to pharmacies within 24 hours of an order and plans to take its latest evidence to the Department of Health’s supply chain forum.

“Our audit results are a reminder to the government that this problem is still significant,” says Jones.

The audit was based on an analysis of prescription interventions made at 5,198 pharmacies for a two week period, conducted during September, October or November 2014. There were 113,471 interventions, which suggests a rate of 7 interventions per 1,000 items dispensed.

The most common interventions related to medicine supply and shortages (20.5%); unsigned prescriptions (18.1%); problems with the medicine form (7.9%); drug quantity (6.8%); or drug item or brand (6.7%).

Some 10% of all interventions could have resulted in a serious incident if the pharmacist had not taken action, says Pharmacy Voice, which estimates that community pharmacy teams intervene on a possible 6.6 million prescription items annually.

References

[1] Pharmacy Voice. Prescription interventions: practice-based audit 2014–2015. Pharmacy Voice: June 2015.

Last updated
Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 25 July/1 August 2015, Vol 295, No 7872/3;295(7872/3):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20068979