Pharmacists ‘run out of stock of cold and flu medicines amid huge demand’

Pharmacists are running out of the most common cold and flu medicines, amid huge demand for over-the-counter remedies.

As cold and flu cases continue to rise, those who cannot see their GP are turning to store-bought treatments which have seen a surge in demand, an expert says.

‘Higher demand’ has seen the sale of drugs like Lemsip and Day and Night Nurse, as well as other own-brand cold and flu treatments, with pharmacists snapping pictures of sold-out shelves.

The head of the Association of Multiple Independent Pharmacies, Dr Leyla Hannbeck, told MailOnline the problem was ‘widespread’ and not isolated to a single product.

People took pictures of sold out shelves as stocks of cold and flu medicines run out

People took pictures of sold out shelves as stocks of cold and flu medicines run out

Pharmacists have reported low stocks of some over-the-counter cold and flu medications

Pharmacists have reported low stocks of some over-the-counter cold and flu medications

Describing the situation as a ‘nightmare at the moment’, she said: ‘Pharmacists can’t get some of the most common cold and flu medicines and are sending me photos showing how empty the shelves are .

“People can’t get GP appointments and are being told to take care of themselves so they don’t put pressure on the NHS.

“With higher cold and flu cases this season, it has led many people to buy over-the-counter medications and led to higher demand.”

Dr Hannbeck said a range of products including Lemsip, Day and Night Nurse and own-brand cold and flu treatments were “hard to come by”.

Cold and flu medicines appeared in short supply at a Morrisons in the market town of St Ives, Cambridgeshire

Cold and flu medicines appeared in short supply at a Morrisons in the market town of St Ives, Cambridgeshire

Tesco in Bar Hill, Cambridgeshire, also had low stocks of some cold and flu medicines

Tesco in Bar Hill, Cambridgeshire, also had low stocks of some cold and flu medicines

“They run out very quickly and it’s very patchy, leading to a situation where we have to tell patients we can’t supply them.

“The Department of Health (DHSC) and the government deny there are any shortages. As long as it is, we will see this moving forward.

“During the winter period, when so many people are suffering from cold and flu symptoms, as soon as a little bit of demand increases, we are stuck.”

She continued, “It’s not just one brand, it’s a range of products that are not available.

“But we don’t want to sow panic. What we are saying is that some of these basic drugs that we should have right now are not available.

Dr Hannbeck said the problems were caused by “problems and delays with manufacturers”, but further exacerbated by the lack of proper robust plans in place to address supply chain issues.

Meanwhile MailOnline visited some Boots stores in London yesterday and found that Lemsip Max sachets were completely sold out, with only boxes of ‘day and night’ tablets left.

A Boots store worker said: ‘We don’t have Lemsip powder or our own brand cold and flu sachets at all. Only Beechams.

“We haven’t had one for two to three weeks. I believe there are supply issues.

Have you noticed that cold and flu medicine is running out at your local pharmacy?

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Lemsip maker Reckitt said it was “doing everything possible to minimize disruption” as demand for the product was high during cold and flu season.

A Boots spokesperson said: “We have seen higher than usual demand for Lemsip.

“There is still availability in many of our stores, and although there may be temporary shortages in some, there will normally be suitable alternatives available.

“If in doubt, customers should speak to their pharmacist for advice on alternatives.”

Meanwhile, Superdrug said it was currently experiencing “exceptionally high demand” for both its branded and own-brand cold and flu products.

Superintendent of Pharmacy Niamh McMillan Superdrug, added that demand for their own branded remedies had exceeded demand seen in “its biggest week of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Meanwhile, dozens of social media users have reportedly struggled to find cold and flu remedies this winter.

One woman said: ‘Real question. Is there a shortage of Lemsip? I’ve been to over 8 different stores since before Christmas and the shelves are totally bare.

Retailers see empty shelves as stock of cold and flu remedies runs out in winter season

Retailers see empty shelves as stock of cold and flu remedies runs out in winter season

Packets of painkillers and cough medicine were out of stock at Morrisons in Cambridgeshire this morning

Packets of painkillers and cough medicine were out of stock at Morrisons in Cambridgeshire this morning

Another reported a shortage at the Waitrose store in Worthing, West Sussex, while a third – who spent the Christmas holidays battling a virus – added: ‘I’ve been floored by a nasty bug since day of Christmas.

“I started feeling better yesterday and luckily I’m just cold like symptoms now. There are so many of them. Apparently there’s been a shortage of Lemsip and paracetamol here because of that!

While one man shed light on the shortage by tweeting: ‘Why is no one talking about the Lemsip shortage!’ How am I going to handle this human flu!?’

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘We have ongoing discussions with suppliers to ensure there is a wide variety of over-the-counter cold and flu medicines available at the hospital. purchase across the country. In the event of a supply problem, we have well-established procedures to deal with it.

“We are working closely with industry, the NHS and others to avoid shortages and resolve any issues as soon as possible.”

Haleon has been contacted for comment.

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