The legal sale of prescription drugs by middlemen from UK distributors to other EU markets is prompting drastic shortages of key medicines, and could yet force the Government to review the law.
The all-party Pharmacy Group has just announced the findings of a six-month review into the issue and has concluded that the Government is putting EU free-trade law ahead of patient safety.
The group has called for an unequivocal message from law makers that UK patients come first ahead of free and fair trade.
The report conducted by the group found that patients with a variety of ailments, including diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy, Parkinson's and schizophrenia had all on occasion been unable to obtain medicines due to a shortage of supply.
The report found that at any given time there were shortages in around 30-40 key medicines, but that these tended to vary.
"There are currently only about 30 drugs reported as difficult to obtain due to parallel exporting out of 16,000 branded and generic medicines," said the report.
The report cites profiteering by smaller wholesalers who buy the drugs in bulk and export them to more expensive markets in mainland Europe.
Labour MP Ken Barron is the report lead.
"The UK has been experiencing shortages of NHS prescription medicines for four years. These shortages are caused principally by the export of medicines intended for the UK market to other EU countries," the report reads.
In an interview with The Times, Mr Barron highlighted the patient suffering that the report uncovered.
"Our report lays to rest the mistaken view that patients are not suffering, and it clearly shows that pharmacists are spending countless hours sourcing medicines that should be readily available," he said.
The Department of Health has responded by saying it will look further into the matter, and will do all it can to protect the interests of UK patients.
Read more on the story (The Telegraph)