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Pharmacies struggling to source atorvastatin tablets, DH warned


Pharmacies struggling to source atorvastatin tablets, DH warned

Supply issues affecting atorvastatin tablets are having a “serious impact” on pharmacies, negotiator Community Pharmacy England has said.

In a July 5 email bulletin, CPE said several contractors had got in touch about the pricing and availability of atorvastatin, and that it had raised this with officials from the Department of health and Social Care.

The DHSC supply team “has been working closely with manufacturers and wholesalers on this issue,” CPE added.

Pharmacist Chris Armstrong tweeted earlier this week: “Atorvastatin 20mg price concession last month was £1.56. It is now only available from wholesalers at £5.00ish. We use hundreds of packs per month. It could result in a loss of thousands of pounds to our pharmacy this month. What do we do @ComPharmEngland?” 

Contractor Rifat Asghar-Hussain described the supply issues as “exhausting,” commenting: “I can’t afford to pay for double/triple stock and I’m shocked that it hasn’t reached concession.”

Atorvastatin was ranked the most commonly dispensed active ingredient in the NHS Business Service Authority’s 2022-23 prescription cost analysis for England, with 58.7 items dispensed.

In a separate statement this week regarding shortages of GLP-1 receptor agonists used in type 2 diabetes, CPE funding director Mike Dent said that as pharmacy teams battle shortages alongside other pressures “they are caught in the middle of an impossible situation”.  

“Patients are understandably frustrated. But the problems within the medicines market go far beyond the pharmacies trying to manage them,” said Mr Dent.

Mr Dent called on the Government to “step in and help stabilise the medicines market”.

The negotiator is inviting MPa to a briefing event on medicines shortages in the House of Commons on Monday July 10, saying it hopes “to be joined by representatives from the pharmacy frontline, pharmaceutical wholesalers and health think tanks”. 

A DHSC spokesperson said: “We are aware of supply constraints affecting atorvastatin 20mg tablets.

“Deliveries are continuing to be made and we are closely monitoring the situation.

“We are working with wholesalers and all suppliers of atorvastatin tablets to understand what steps can be taken to improve the situation. Alternative statins remain available.”

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