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Stocks of antibiotic Augmentin could run out 'within months'

The antibiotic treats infections like bronchitis and pneumonia and may be unavailable in Ireland until late next year.

STOCKS OF ONE of the most widely prescribed antibiotics in primary care may soon run out and be unavailable in Ireland until late next year.

The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) says that it is ‘serious concerned’ by impending shortages of Augmentin and the potential effect it could have on patient care.

The GlaxoSmithKline manufactured antibiotic is used in adults and children to treat a raft of different infections including severe ear, nose and throat infections like bronchitis and pneumonia.

Augmentin is also used to prevent infections associated with major surgical procedures.

The problem is worsened because supplies of generic equivalents of the drug are also expected to be affected due to problems in the supply from GlaxoSmithKline.

The IPU says that it is aware that once current stocks are exhausted, which will take no more than a couple of months, no further supplies will be available to the Irish market until late next year.

IPU secretary general, Darragh O’ Loughlin said that the IPU is especially worried by the shortage because it will occur during a time of year when patient requirement for this medicine are at their highest.

“There is also a significant risk that we will not have sufficient stocks of therapeutic alternatives,” he said.

This raises the likelihood of either patients going without essential treatment and suffering serious exacerbations of their illnesses or, more probably, inappropriate use of other antibiotics, which will undoubtedly increase the prevalence of antibiotic resistance, worsening treatment outcomes for future generations of patients.

O’ Loughlin called on the Department of Health to ensure that plans be put in place to deal the shortage and to make pharmacists and prescribers aware of the plans long before patients begin to suffer as a result.

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Rónán Duffy

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