Calpol 'non-existent' as basic medicines run low and flu, Covid and StrepA surge

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Calpol is in short supply (Image: MEN)
Calpol is in short supply (Image: MEN)

Pharmacists have warned that Calpol is "virtually non-existent' in some areas of the UK as pharmacies struggle to get hold of a number of common cold and flu medicines.

The low supplies come as the country continues to see "high levels" of Covid-19, the flu and Strep A — creating a surge in demand for the popular children's treatment.

Officials have asked people to keep their children off school if they have a high fever and have urged sick adults to wear face masks to stem the spread of infections.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We’re aware that there’s been increased demand for Calpol, leading to temporary local supply issues in some areas.

“Many other children’s paracetamol products are available over the counter, as are other formulations such as tablets and capsules.

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“We have well established procedures in place, and we are working closely with all suppliers of children’s paracetamol to ensure access for those who need it.”

Calpol 'non-existent' as basic medicines run low and flu, Covid and StrepA surgeEmpty shelves have been spotted across the UK (MEN)

Mike Hewitson, a pharmacist from Somerset who is struggling to stock Calpol, told The Sun that he had "never seen the situation this bad".

Meanwhile, Durham Pharmacist Sri Kanaparthy told the paper that the shortages were causing a dilemma for parents with sick children.

He said: "We always try and short out an alternative for the patient, but in some cases it's not possible and we have to refer the patient back to the GP.

"This is a dilemma for those patients who cannot get a timely GP appointment."

Calpol 'non-existent' as basic medicines run low and flu, Covid and StrepA surgePharmacists said they are struggling to stock Calpol (Getty Images)

Calpol shortages come as pharmaceutical chiefs issue a warning over the availability of common cold and flu medicines in pharmacies across the UK — with throat lozenges, cough mixtures and some painkillers also reported to be in short supply.

The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMP) said that pharmacists are struggling to get hold of even the 'very basic' and 'most common' types of cold and flu medicine amid soaring cases of colds and flu this winter.

Calpol 'non-existent' as basic medicines run low and flu, Covid and StrepA surgeCases of Strep A in children have been surging (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

AIMP chief executive Leyla Hannbeck explained: “The demand has been high because this season we’ve seen higher cases of colds and flu and people are obviously trying very hard to look after themselves and making sure that they use the relevant products to manage the symptoms.

"And that has led to a shortage of these products in terms of us not being able to obtain them".

It's not the first time that UK pharmacies have experienced shortages recently, with supply issues also affecting the availability of HRT and antibiotics last year.

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Calpol 'non-existent' as basic medicines run low and flu, Covid and StrepA surgeParents have been urged to keep their children home from school if they have a temperature (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The AIMP has blamed a 'lack of planning' by government officials for the most recent shortages and has accused them of 'being in denial' over problems with the supply chain.

Leyla said: "We are constantly finding ourselves in a situation when as soon as the demand for something goes up we are struggling with the supply.

"Unfortunately part of that is a lack of planning by officials (at the Department of Health and Social Care) in terms of foreseeing the problems and trying to plan in advance to sort it."

"For example, with cold and flu, we knew some months ago cases were going up and it was anticipated that there would be higher demand for these products.

"So you would have thought that plans would have been in place in terms of managing this with regards to liaising with manufacturers and getting the products in."

She added: "On the front line it is very difficult because we're seeing these shortages but those people who are in charge of supporting us with it are denying it."

Calpol 'non-existent' as basic medicines run low and flu, Covid and StrepA surgeThe AIMP said that government officials should have planned for the predicted surge in cold and flu cases (Getty Images)

Health minister Will Quince met with Ms Hannbeck on Wednesday to discuss issues in community pharmacy, including concerns about supply of cold and flu medicines.

The Department of Health and Social Care is understood to have received industry feedback that any issues are sporadic and localised.

A department spokesperson said: "We are aware of reports of issues with the availability of some branded cold and flu medicines.

"These appear to be temporary and localised, but we are engaging with suppliers to investigate and help ensure that over-the-counter cold and flu medicines remain available."

Ella Pickover

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