Over 50 medicines are in short supply, causing "extreme distress" to patients, a survey has revealed.
The survey, which was published on the website of Chemist & Druggist surveyed over 150 community pharmacies with nearly a third reporting that patients had been inconvenienced by the shortfall.
Almost 90% of respondents said they were "very concerned" about the short supply of certain medicines including those for breast cancer, blood clots, and antidepressants.
Roger Odd, a trustee of the Patients' Association, said: "There are 50 or more medicines that have been out of stock, it's unbelievable. It can't be right for patients to be suffering like this."
In one case, a patient experienced "extreme distress" while waiting for the breast cancer drug Femara, while another pharmacist said one patient had panic attacks due to unavailability of the anti-depressant Cipralex. The lack of blood clot drug Plavix had reportedly led to a hospital admission.
Shortfall is being attributed to a healthy export market for medicines and production quotas set by drug manufacturers.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said the government was aware of the difficulty: "We are working with pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies and wholesalers to better understand these concerns, and will continue to monitor the situation closely in order to address these."