UK pharmacists say epilepsy medication shortages have reached ‘crisis point’

UK pharmacists say epilepsy medication shortages have reached ‘crisis point’

Tens of thousands of patients in the UK are struggling to access vital epilepsy medication amid a drug shortage.

Charlotte Kelly has lived with epilepsy for over 20 years and takes two tablets a day to manage her condition. She has been forced to ration her medication due to the shortage.

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«If I’m being truthfully honest, I’m scared,” Kelly told Sky News.

“I might not get any medication for a few weeks or a couple of months. I don’t know. There’s times when I’ve had to call 5 or 6 different pharmacies, and the more you’re calling a different pharmacy and you’re not hearing what you need to hear. You’re getting more and more frustrated,” she added.

“So if I don’t have my medication, I could have multiple seizures and that could lead to hospitalisation and worst case, death.”

Pharmacists say the situation has reached a «crisis point».

«You don’t know how many epilepsy fits or attacks the person can have, or how severe the epilepsy is because obviously, they’ve been taking it every single day for so many years. And if it just stops one day, well, even if they miss a dose, it’s a big deal,” said Kay Dhillon, a pharmacist in West London.

She says she’s been helping patients access resources shared between four pharmacy branches — but now everyone’s supplies are running low.

Epilepsy Society, a UK-based charity, says that the shortage is partly due to manufacturing issues and that the UK might have to bring drugs over from other parts of the world, as an “emergency”.

The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement that it is aware of supply issues with the epilepsy medicine carbamazepine (brand name Tegretol) which it hoped to restock by mid-February.

Epilepsy Society estimates the shortages of Lamotrigine will last until March 2024.

More than 600,000 people in the UK have the condition, about one in every 100 people, the charity said.

For more on this story, watch the video in the media player above.

Video editor • Roselyne Min


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