UK government denies Strep A drug shortage


The National Pharmacy Association has confirmed that there has been a sharp increase in demand for antibiotic drugs

London, Thanasis Gavos

The assurance that there is a “good supply” of penicillin in the United Kingdom was given by the country’s Health Secretary Stephen Barclay, after warnings that there is a shortage of antibiotic drugs to deal with increased infections due to strep A.

Pharmacists have questioned the feasibility of the government’s plan to give preventive antibiotics to schoolchildren with cases of scarlet fever, the main manifestation of the strep A bacteria infection.

Pharmacists have reported that there are insufficient quantities of antibiotics for such a plan.

The National Pharmacy Association confirmed that there has been a sharp increase in demand for antibiotic drugs, including those based on the penicillin used against strep.

“Pharmacies have to work very hard to get stocks of these antibiotics and some supply lines are not available. We have been informed by the wholesalers that most of these lines will be replenished soon, but we cannot say exactly when that will be,” the Association said in a statement.

The comments come after the name of the ninth victim of the infection, five-year-old Stella-Lily McCorkindale, who ended up in a Belfast children’s hospital on Monday, was released.

In the past 20 weeks there have been 9,772 cases of scarlet fever in England and Wales, compared to just 1,255 cases reported in the same period last year.

Scarlet fever is considered a relatively mild infection and is treated with antibiotics, however, in a few cases, like those of the nine victimsthe bacterium penetrates deeper into the body causing a serious infection.

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