Threat to Hospitals and Patients from Restricted Drug Supplies Sept02

Bashir Khanbhai, Conservative MEP for the East of England, has condemned pharmaceutical manufacturers for imposing prescription medicines quotas throughout the European Union. "There seems to be a total disregard by the manufacturer for the welfare of the patient at the end of the supply chain, which is causing both doctors and patients a great deal of anxiety," said Mr Khanbhai.

As the European Parliament today discusses the review of EU pharmaceutical legislation, there is clear new evidence to suggest that drugs manufacturers are continuing to restrict access to essential prescription medicines and preventing wholesalers from supplying local hospitals and doctors with sufficient quantities.

East Anglian Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a wholesaler based in Norwich, has provided startling proof that their American suppliers are blocking access to essential drugs such as Zyprexa, a product used in the treatment of schizophrenia, for which there is currently no alternative. The Managing Director of East Anglian Pharmaceuticals has confirmed that hospitals, doctors and pharmacies have complained about their inability to guarantee supplies. Although the manufacturers claim that the drugs are available from other UK wholesalers, doctors are protesting that they have insufficient time and resources to waste searching for alternative wholesalers.

Mr Khanbhai said: "I am totally against the quotas for prescription medicines imposed by manufacturers on wholesalers in EU member states. While they claim this is an attempt to curtail parallel imports and that it does not disrupt the supply to wholesalers to meet genuine commitments to pharmacies and hospitals, this is clearly not the case."

Speaking after the Environment Committee meeting Mr Khanbhai added: "If the EU is a free open single market for goods, then the pharmaceutical manufacturers should ensure that they offer uninterrupted supply of essential prescription medicines to authorised registered wholesalers in all member states. I am hoping that my amendment to the EU Pharmaceuticals Review will resolve this problem. We must formulate appropriate legislation that will offer quality, safety and flexibility for health care delivery systems in different Member States. I want to achieve the best for patients, the healthcare industry and taxpayers in the UK."