Medicine Shortage Index shows Ireland is facing a shortage of 187 different medicines in December

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Medicine Shortage Index - Dec 22

The Medicine Shortage Index, issued today by Azure Pharmaceuticals, analyses data published by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). Our analysis underlines the scale of medicine shortages at present.

187 different medicines used by Irish patients are currently out of stock, including 11 medicines listed on the World Medical Organisation’s (WHO) ‘critical medicines’ list. These include Amoxicillin and Penicillin, commonly prescribed antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections and Vinorelbine, a common chemotherapy drug.

Other medicines experiencing shortages are for use across a range of health areas, including infections, pain relief, treatment for seizures, mental health, blood pressure, diabetes, and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

The Medicines Shortage Index

The Index found that 40% of the medicines out of stock this month have just a single supplier, leaving pharmacists without alternatives for patients. It also leaves Ireland out of sync with the rest of Europe, with a recently published European Commission report showing the EU wide singled-sourced average standing at 25%.  

Our analysis is further evidence that while the problem of medicine shortages is a global one, Ireland is increasingly an outlier when compared to neighbouring countries. The consequence is that patients and pharmacists are in an ever-worsening situation. Patients will be increasingly anxious. Pharmacists are exposed by the reality of single-source supply situations, over-stretched doctors, and inflexibility to give them new mechanisms to respond.

Sandra Gannon, Managing Director of Azure Pharmaceuticals


We need to risk-mitigate through improved early warning systems and looking afresh at the timelines and resources of the approval process.

Opening the door to alternative sources for medicines which are single-source dependant can be transformative. Medicines will continue to follow the best prices and until Ireland can better compete, shortages will continue. It is also time to reflect on the learnings of Covid, broaden our manufacturing base, and de-risk our dependency on particularly markets.