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Patients put at risk as UK prescription drugs are sold abroad for profits

Published on 27/02/2012

NHS patients in the UK are being denied essential drugs as prescription medicines are being sold abroad for bigger profits.

Drug suppliers and pharmacies can exploit EU rules and sell medicines created for the UK market abroad, as long as they have the correct license.

Drugs created for the UK market are being sold abroad for huge profits

According to IMS Health, a health consultancy, 11 per cent of the 12,600 pharmacies in the UK are now engaging in the practise of selling drugs for the UK market abroad.

As companies exploit the fluctuating exchange rate to make big profits, major shortages of drugs in the UK mean patients’ lives are being put at risk.

322 pharmacists were surveyed by Chemist and Druggist magazine. 85 per cent of those questioned said they were ‘very concerned’ that patients were being adversely affected by shortages.

Over 40 per cent said they have seen a patient hospitalised because of the problem.

One patient in Staffordshire died after he took a week to get the medication he needed for an immune system disorder. And another patient from Surrey who had a kidney transplant waited days for anti-rejection medicine.

But it is not just pharmacies making a profit on UK drugs. Until a government crackdown, even NHS hospitals were wholesaling drugs for profit. The Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford made £300,000 on sales of £4m in one year.

The Department of Health insisted it couldn't stop the trade. Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said access to prescribed medicines was 'a basic right that all patients should be able to expect'.

A spokesman said: 'It is vital organisations in the supply chain stick to the best practice guidance that was agreed in February last year.’

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012

Categories:  Medical
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