The All-Party Pharmacy Group of MPs, which I chair, this week published a report on our inquiry into shortages of some prescription medicines.
This problem has caused difficulties for the NHS for the last four years, with at any one time between 30 and 40 medicines being in short supply. These have included treatments for Parkinson's disease, some cancers and depression. During the inquiry we heard about many cases where vulnerable patients had not received the medicines they needed, including pregnant women who were in need of medicine to stabilise their pregnancy.
The main cause of the problem is that medicines are being bought cheaply by smaller wholesalers in the UK and then sold at higher prices elsewhere in Europe.
One of the report’s recommendations is that the Government should consider whether it could legally restrict the export of medicines on the grounds of protecting public health.