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Drug companies need to keep shelves full

Release Pharmac

Drug companies need to keep pharmacists’ shelves full

Some drug companies aren’t making sure pharmacies are getting sufficient stock of medicines.

General Manager Wayne McNee says there has been some recent cases of pharmacists being concerned that they are not getting enough stock of certain drugs to meet demand.

However, Wayne McNee says it is important that there is some clarification of what is actually occurring. In the vast majority of cases, there isn’t a drug shortage, but rather the drug company is not managing its stock effectively.

“The reality is that some drug companies are sloppy when it comes to stock management. It is annoying that some companies seem to find it difficult to assess demand and then keep up with supply.”

Wayne McNee says it may appear that there has been an increase in the number of shortages, but no evidence has been provided to show the situation is any different than 10 years ago.

However, he says pharmacists may be taking more notice as PHARMAC has asked them to keep track of any concerns. He says in those few cases when there is a genuine shortage of a drug, it is an international problem, and is not just isolated to New Zealand.

Wayne McNee says unfortunately some drug companies look for scapegoats when there is a perceived drug shortage. This includes blaming reduced profit margins due to PHARMAC policy.

“It comes down to bad management. These companies are still making healthy profits, within an industry which is enjoying growth. We are talking about a $1 billion industry in New Zealand, and no doubt there would be plenty of other industries that would like to be in the same situation.”

He says it also needs to be stressed that the vast majority of drugs that have prompted concern aren’t those PHARMAC has tendered or reduced subsidies on. Some of the shortages have also been for over-the-counter drugs so they have nothing to do with subsidies.

Wayne McNee says pharmaceutical suppliers could learn a lesson from these other industries, which seem to be better equipped to manage their inventory and avoid short supply.

“So far it is fortunate that stock shortages haven’t affected patients much as there is usually an alternative brands or different strengths of the products that can be substituted. But that said it is still vital that drug companies improve their performance in ensuring they meet demand. It is also timely to remind those companies carrying subsidised drugs that they have a contractual obligation to ensure their supplies are sufficient.”


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