Pharmacy boss warns over shortage of medicines

“I AM over 30 years in this job, and I have never witnessed anything like this before.”

These are the worried words of Liam Bradley –a local pharmacist who owns 13 community chemists in Fermanagh and Tyrone.

As ‘the worst flu outbreak in 20 years’ continues to spread, sick people are increasingly finding themselves being shooed away from over-cramped emergency departments, and losing their tempers with apologetic voice recordings of their GP’s unanswered phones.


To many, it appears that the structures that uphold our health service are buckling at every joint. In an effort to cure their ills, many people are finding their local pharmacies as their last hope.

But they, too, are experiencing unprecedented stress.

When we spoke with Liam Bradley earlier this week, the story he told was simple, but stark.

Mr Bradley said that, over the month of December, his pharmacies received almost three times more antibiotic prescriptions than would usually be expected for that time of year.

The problem, he said, was one that could fundamentally be boiled down to supply and demand.

“There are so many people looking for antibiotics, these days I spend my every morning ringing around suppliers and distributors, hunting for stock.

“I did not have any luck yesterday morning, but maybe this morning will be different,” said Mr Bradley.


He explained that, while some manufacturers are claiming that stock is available, albeit for a much higher price, he believes that some vital antibiotics will not in stock until the end of next week.

“When somebody is prescribed an antibiotic, it is because they need it now. It is as simple as that,” said Mr Bradley.

“Currently, many pharmacies are totally out of staple antibiotics, such as penicillin, and amoxicillin is also in short supply.”

The lack of security and predictability is disconcerting, and Mr Bradley said that many parents of sick children are extremely unsettled by the lack of availability of these common antibiotics.

“Naturally, parents become worried when their child is prescribed one thing, and then are given another. However, the substitutes we have been turning to are quality alternatives that will help people fend off the viruses they are fighting,” assured Mr Bradley.

Mr Bradley reminded us that penicillin is the antibiotic that is primarily prescribed to patients suffering with Strep A.

“Not all of the penicillin we have prescribed recently has been for people with Strep A, but quite a bit of it has.

“We want to get these vital antibiotics back in store, available for those who need them, as soon as possible.
Concluding, Mr Bradley said, “I know there are plenty of good people working hard to get the supply chain working efficiently again, but time is of the essence.”

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