Emily Thornberry, LaborThe shadow secretary of international trade says the government’s own figures show that many stocks of drugs are at zero.
The shortages include bacterial antibiotics and strong pain relievers, according to figures released to parliament by Health Minister Ed Argar.
Ms Thornberry is now calling on the government to explain how it will replenish running out of supplies, either through imports or by increasing domestic capacity.
“In May, I asked the trade ministers what they were doing to replace our stocks of essential drugs in case we faced a new crisis in demand, and they assured me that action was being taken.” , she said.
“But based on these new numbers, our current stocks appear to be well below the levels we had at this time last year, especially when it comes to life-saving and pain-relieving drugs. the hospitalized. COVID the patients.
“On an issue as important as this, the country needs decisive and effective leadership, and swift action to bring these stocks back to last year’s levels. ”
The shortages emerged after Ms Thornberry posed a parliamentary question to the Department of Health demanding to know how current drug stocks compare to a year ago.
In his response, Mr. Argar said: “The government continues to hold stocks of drugs to deal with a range of scenarios, and robust contingency planning continues to ensure the country is prepared for a possible second peak. COVID-19 infections.
“The department recently launched a competitive bidding process to find critical supportive drugs for COVID-19 and a second bidding exercise is currently underway.
“This is new stock and we are currently in the process of awarding contracts and taking and arranging for delivery of some of these drugs. ”
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Emergency stocks are known as the Essential Medicines Buffer Stock, which was created to support the NHS during a pandemic or other health emergency by ensuring that the supply chain is uninterrupted.
During the first wave of coronavirus, earlier this year, stocks of drugs were high, as ministers had stockpiled them before a possible no-deal Brexi at the end of last year.
But at the height of the lockdown in April, the government was forced to import 2.8 million packages of paracetamol from Inde after shoppers cleared supermarket and drugstore shelves.
Ms Thornberry says Mr Argar’s latest figures show Britain currently has no stocks of high-resistance pain relievers such as injectable morphine or the bacterial antibiotic doxycycline, which is used to treat pneumonia and patients. with COVID on ventilators.
Mr. Argar’s figures show good supplies of adrenaline solution, magnesium sulfate, morphine sulfate, suxamethonium chloride solution, and tinzaparin sodium solution.
But meropenem powder, an antibiotic used to treat secondary bacterial infections, is down from 508,540 injections last year to 112,270 today.
And the following stocks are now reduced to zero:
- Antibiotic doxycycline, used to treat secondary bacterial infections, down from 10,510,440 capsules last year
- Fentanyl opioid, down from 818,914 injections last year
- Opioid morphine: down from 1,115,656 injections last year
- Anesthetic / sedative midazolam: 504,831 injections last year
- Levomepromazine, an antipsychotic drug used for palliative care, down from 84,565 injections last year
Earlier this year, ministers pledged to replenish stocks of essential drugs after figures revealed shortfalls in buffer stock compared to last year.
The health ministry admitted that stocks of drugs, including asthma inhalers, antibiotics, paracetamol and ibuprofen, appeared to have run out.