Medicines advice | Press

New information about supplies of medicines

There have been reports in the media about problems with the supplies of some medicines, and parents and carers may have had difficulty obtaining the medicines needed for their children. We have published a new information guide explaining why there may be issues with the supply of certain medicines, and how this is managed to make sure patients get their medicines.

May 16, 2024

The manufacturer of medicines is a complex process, requiring lots of different ingredients and materials. It is not surprising, therefore, that there are sometimes problems in these processes that delay manufacturer or cause supply issues. In addition, the ways that medicines are supplied and distributed, and the relevant regulations, have been changing in recent years. These changes are happening all over the world, not just in the UK.

Parents and carers may have to wait longer for a prescription to be filled, they may receive a different brand from normal or, occasionally, may have to change to a different medicine strength (dose) or formulation (e.g. liquid medicine, tablets etc.).

We have developed a new information guide which explains how pharmacies will help to obtain medicines, why prescriptions may be changed, and why it is important not to stockpile medicines at home.

We want to reassure families that all parties involved in obtaining and supplying medicines are doing their best to make sure that patients continue to get the medicines they need. The UK Department of Health and Social Care is working closely with medicines suppliers, pharmacists and other stakeholders to make sure that patients continue to have access to the treatments they need.

What should you do whilst there are medicines shortages?

  • It is important that you do not order extra supplies of medicines, as this can make things worse. Supplies may be sent to the wrong place, causing shortages elsewhere. It may also mean that medicines are wasted if they are not used.
  • We recommend that families try to keep 2 weeks’ supply of their children’s medicines at home. You should contact your pharmacist in plenty of time before needing a new prescription to be filled, as this helps them to manage supplies and makes sure all patients get the medicines they need.
  • There is a particular concern with some medicines, such as those for epilepsy, as patients usually need to have the same brand of medicine every time, because different brands lead to slightly different levels of medicine in the body. If you have any difficulty obtaining your usual brand of epilepsy medicine, speak to pharmacist for help, or contact your epilepsy nurse or doctor in plenty of time.
  • It is important that your child continues to take their medicine(s) regularly as you have been told to by your doctor.