A new drug shortages tracker from MIMS has been launched so that GPs can reduce their likelihood of writing prescriptions for products that are out of stock.

After GPs recently highlighted an increase in the number of common medicines becoming unavailable, the new product shortages tracker was created as an “early warning system” to flag up medicine supply problems.

The tracker is updated constantly, listing products currently reported to be out of stock in the UK. It also suggests possible alternatives where appropriate. A second tracker lists supply issues reported to have been resolved.

According to MIMS, the lists are not exhaustive but will be developed over time, and notifications are encouraged from manufacturers or prescribers about other products that are out of stock.

In a GPOnline survey of 586 GPs, conducted earlier this year, 31% of GPs reported spending an hour or more each week dealing with the effects of medicines shortages. This potentially means writing new prescriptions or carrying out follow-up appointments.

More than half of respondents said they had “often” been forced to prescribe second-choice medication over the past year due to drug shortages. A total of 16% reported being forced to do so “very often” and a further 35% “fairly often”.

Meanwhile, one in seven GPs said their patients had experienced negative effects, including harm or slower recovery, after medicines shortages forced them to switch to second-choice drugs.

The tracker is available at www.mims.co.uk.

Last reviewed 8 May 2019