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Pharmacies warn of medicine shortage

Widespread supply chain problems mean patients often struggle to find vital drugs, pharmacies warn

PEOPLE with illnesses are struggling to find vital drugs in French pharmacies because of widespread supply problems, pharmacists have warned.

The pharmacists' body, l'Ordre National des Pharmaciens, says 60 per cent of its members have complained that they are regularly running out of key drugs including insulin, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory treatments.

About 370 products out of the 5,300 sold in France remain difficult to find on the shelves at times, despite assurances by the health ministry earlier this year that it is working to fix the problem.

According to Le Parisien, the shortages are particularly acute during the summer holidays, when some people have to drive around many pharmacies to find the drugs they need at short notice.

The health ministry has asked the French consumer protection body DGCCRF to investigate the supply problems and what can be done to fix them.

Meanwhile, health minister Xavier Bertrand will today present a draft law that aims to tighten up drug safety.

The bill includes changes to the way the drug monitoring body Afssaps is run, more frequent checks on medicines and new measures designed to avoid conflicts of interest.

The changes come after the controversy surrounding slimming drug Mediator, which was implicated in the deaths of up to 2,000 people.

The medicine was first put on the market as a treatment for diabetes and was selling seven million a boxes a year at its peak before it was banned in 2009.

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