January 25, 2023

A senior pharmacist says a shortage of penicillin is leading to fears that some prescriptions will not be filled as seasonal disease levels continue to rise.

Pharmacy director Zeshan Rehmani criticized the Health Ministry for being “out of touch” after mooted proposals to give antibiotics to children in schools to help prevent diseases, including Strep A – saying: “There are no medicines. Today we have not been able to get any penicillin in stock at all.”

His warning comes amid concerns that some parents are resorting to using old or outdated antibiotics they found at home to treat their children.

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Ninth child dies in Strep A outbreak

That led to Thorrun Govind, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, warning against self-diagnosis and urging parents to talk to their GP instead.

She has warned that leftover antibiotics should be returned to pharmacies because there is a risk of children getting the wrong dose.

Nine children in the UK are known to have died in a recent outbreak of a form of HIV Streep Aan infection that is usually mild and easily treated with the antibiotic amoxicillin.

But an invasive form of the bacteria known as iGAS has been on the rise this year, especially in children under 10 years old.

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Schools ‘may’ be given Strep A antibiotics

The National Pharmacy Association confirmed that there has been a spike in demand for some antibiotics, including those used to treat Strep A infection in children.

A statement said: “Pharmacists have to work very hard to get supplies of these antibiotics, and some lines are temporarily unavailable.

“We have heard from wholesalers that most lines will be replenished soon, but we cannot say exactly when that will be.

“As always, pharmacists will continue to work with local GPs to help people get the medicines they need as quickly as possible, which may require a prescription change.”

Mr Rehmani, whose pharmacy is in Manchester, told Sky News’ Inzamam Rashid: “When we hear stories about possibly giving antibiotics to children in schoolsit just shows how little contact the Ministry of Health has with the local pharmacy.

He added, “Pharmacists across the country think we don’t have enough penicillin to fill our prescriptions, let alone distribute it to schools.”

Read more:
What is Strep A and what are the symptoms?
Strep A generally causes mild infections – why the spate of deaths now?

Inzamam Rashid piece on the growing problem of Strep A, colds and flu in the North West of England

‘No shortage’

Health Minister Maria Caulfield said a cross-party briefing had been held for MPs on Strep A, and she denied there was a shortage of antibiotics.

She said: “We want to reassure parents if their children have symptoms and they are concerned about seeking help – GPs are on hand, ERs are on hand, and also we have directors of public health who are proactively going to schools where cases are being reported. to be.

“There is no shortage of antibiotics, we want to reassure people about that and we monitor that on a daily basis.”

Dr. Colin Brown, deputy director of the UKHSA, told Sky News there are “long-standing guidelines” that allow health protection teams to assess the situation in schools and nurseries and consider antibiotic prophylaxis for “either a group of children in certain grades or a whole nursery”. school”.

Following the death of at least nine children in the UKDr. Brown reiterated that there was no evidence that there had been a change in the circulating strains of Strep A to make them more severe.

He suggested it was a lack of mixing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to sensitivity in children, that “brought forward the normal scarlet fever season” to this side of Christmas.

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