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Exports cause UK "drugs shortage"

Britain's stocks of epilepsy, cancer and anti-hypertensive drugs have run disturbingly low and must be addressed before patients begin to suffer, leading pharmacists have said.

The poor performance of the pound against the euro has encouraged medicine wholesalers to export stock out of the country, according to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB).

More than 40 well-known treatments for severe illnesses are in short supply, including some medicines that prevent the body from rejecting organ transplants and treat cancer, the RPSGB said.

Government ministers are understood to be preparing a summit in March to address the issue, which the RPSGB attributed to the weak pound increasing demand for UK sourced drugs.

As costs rose in other EU states, their medicine supplies fell, and competitive UK prices meant more drugs sourced in this country were exported to Europe.

Neal Patel, pharmacist and RPSGB spokesman, said: "Our members are spending long hours chasing down supplies which are increasingly difficult to obtain.

"The Society fears that if we do not identify a solution through real understanding of the problem, then patient care will continue to suffer."

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