Over five million brits have to visit multiple pharmacies to get prescription drugs


As the government announces a pharmacy-first healthcare plan to reduce NHS wait times, new data reveals that an estimated five million UK adults (11%) have had to visit multiple pharmacies to get prescription medicines over the past year. With supply problems hitting crucial antibiotics, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs, painkillers and over-the-counter cold and flu medicines the new data, from AI-powered supply chain management platform 7bridges, sheds light on the shortages.

An estimated 3.7 million adults (8%) were forced to leave their local area and travel as far as 10 miles to collect prescription medicines. Over one in ten adults (11%) said they have been unable to get hold of prescription medicine in their local pharmacy. The figure rises to nearly two fifths (17%) in the Greater London area.

With adults in the UK having to travel increasingly far to find a pharmacy with the medicine they need, patience is being stretched. The research indicates that nearly half (47%) of UK adults agree with the statement that businesses could be doing more to prevent the level of supply chain disruption the UK is experiencing. A quarter (25%) believe pharmacies are most affected by current supply chain issues, despite the food shortages hitting consumers earlier in the year.

When asked how they feel when pharmacies or retailers continue to cite supply chain issues for their shortages, over one in five (21%) say “let down”. Over one in ten (11%) UK adults said they were “angry” about such rationales continuing to be used by businesses.

Philip Ashton, CEO and co-founder of 7bridges commented: “Access to medicines in one’s local area is something all of us expect as standard. Supply issues and the logistics problems that exacerbate them have caused difficulties across a number of sectors but, when it comes to people’s prescriptions or access to antibiotics, ensuring easy access is a must. The sector must embrace technology that can provide both visibility across the interconnected system, and real-time actionable insights to address disruptions in the supply chain. AI-powered tools can be used to stress test and identify potential issues so that a pharmacy, manufacturer, or supplier is able to act before it’s too late. When thinking about the upcoming winter, and increased strain pharmacies will likely be under, greater visibility and the use of predictive software can prevent people having to travel many miles to receive their prescription. Operational resilience, when it comes to medicines, is not optional.”