Pharmacists warn there are 80 drugs including blood pressure pills which are in such short supply health chiefs have agreed to pay an extra 45% for them

Medicine shortages are ‘worse than ever’ with rising numbers of common drugs being so hard to get hold of the Government is forced to pay extra.

Eighty are now so low in stock the Department of Health is, in some cases, paying a price 45 per cent higher than usual.

Among them are blood pressure pills and anti-inflammatories, and some patients are being told to go back to their doctor to ask for something different.

Global demand, the cost of ingredients and new regulations are all possible explanations for pharmacies’ struggle to get hold of certain meds.

And there is disagreement over whether uncertainty about Brexit is making the situation worse.

More than two million prescriptions are filled every day in England, and one expert said fluctuating stock levels have ‘been a problem for some time’.

Among the 80 medicines affected in December were blood pressure drug furosemide, antidepressant fluoxetine and anti-inflammatory naproxen.

Naproxen was recently in such short supply the cost rose to £6.49, £2 more than the NHS last agreed to pay for it – a rise of 45 per cent, according to one expert.

Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said he had never seen so many common drugs affected by shortages.

He said: ‘The items are out of stock and unavailable. Patients are having to wait.

‘We’re having to send some patients back to the GP to get a different prescription, because we just can’t fill them.’

Another explanation for the shortage is the NHS driving down how much it’s willing to pay for drugs, making the UK less attractive to manufacturers.

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