HDA Response To Times Articles On Medicine Shortages

In response to the series of articles published by The Times on medicine shortages, the HDA provided the following comment to the paper, part of which was reproduced in an article on Friday 8th December:


As the trade association representing the largest distributors of medicines on behalf of manufacturers and the NHS, the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA) was dismayed by some of the broad inferences contained in your article of 8 December: “Patients hit by shortages of drugs as prices soar.  The medicines supply chain is a very complex, efficient and competitive ‘just-in-time’ integrated distribution network, on which patients and the NHS depend every single day.


To suggest that our members, whose stock will turnover in a matter of days, are somehow ‘playing the market’ is an insult to their professionalism and their legal obligation as wholesalers.  Let me lay out some facts not discussed in your piece. 


There are over 2,000 medicines wholesale licenses across the four countries of the United Kingdom; these licenses can apply to over 5,000 different premises or addresses. The HDA wholesalers own around 50 of these – 1% of the total.  We may handle and distribute over 90% of NHS medicines, but our members are not focused on storing a few generic medicines based on price, as many of these other businesses could be.  All holders of wholesale licenses have a legal obligation to “maintain a continuous supply” of medicines and, therefore, we do agree with your leader conclusion that “if some in the supply chain are milking the system that is disgraceful”, and that the government and regulators must “move swiftly to fix it”.


In the recent past, the HDA has proposed to government that a Patient Service Obligation be imposed on every type of medicines wholesaler, with the aim of guaranteeing patient supply. Maybe now is the time to urgently revisit this type of regulation?

HDA Response To Times Articles On Medicine Shortages

From Factory to Pharmacy

As part of our mission to build awareness, understanding and appreciation of the vital importance of the healthcare distribution sector, we developed an infographic explaining the availability of medicines. It identifies the factors that can impact drug supply, as well as the measures that HDA members undertake day in, day out to help mitigate the risks of patients not receiving their medicines.

See the Infographic

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