Thyroid UK
84,057 members99,041 posts

Exporting Medicine in Short Supply

Exporting Medicine in Short Supply

There have been several suggestions here that some medicines, most topically Liothyronine, are in short supply due to pharmacies exporting product.

The MHRA gave a very clear statement on this a few years ago (2005). This paragraph states that exporting in the face of UK short supply could be criminal activity:

If a wholesaler chose to trade medicines for export that were in short supply in the UK and as a consequence the needs of patients in the UK were not met, the holder of a wholesale dealer’s licence could be in breach of the Regulations, and could face regulatory action against his licence, and/or criminal prosecution. The requirements apply to all holders of a wholesale dealer’s licence including pharmacists and pharmacy owners who hold a wholesale dealer’s licence.

If you have ANY evidence that any pharmacy or pharmacist is exporting, or has exported, medicine in short supply, please provide that to the MHRA.

It is not only the MHRA who have agreed that document:

This document has been endorsed by the following organisations:

Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry

British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers

Department of Health

Dispensing Doctors’ Association

Ethical Medicines Industry Group

General Practitioners Committee of the British Medical Association

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

National Pharmacy Association

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain

I do appreciate that prior to this time there was considerably more trade of this type and that such exports may not have been banned. However, the statement above is unequivocal - it is NOT allowed.

I am also not naive enough to think that illegal activities never occur. So we have to do what we can to bring offenders up short.


7 Replies

Thanks, Rod.


But not one single report - not even a suspicion.


But what would raise suspicions, Rod? My small high street independent pharmacist orders in T3 for me and possibly one or two others. If he told me T3 was unavailable why would I suspect he is illegally exporting? It may be worthwhile for the large chains with lots of stock to try it on but I can't see small pharmacies carrying enough stock to make it pay.


Things like apparently going from having a vast stock instantly to hand - to none. Especially if that pattern repeats.

Pharmacy owner driving an impossibly expensive car and only working a few hours week. :-)

Product not in original packaging.

Rumours in the community.

Odd foreign vans always turning up every day.

Far more likely in a big pharmacy, or a small chain. A small pharmacy that obviously orders it in for individual patients isn't going to be involved. I don't think it is worth getting involved to sell a few pots of Mercury Pharma T3. :-)


Mine are decanted into tubs but last time a little brown bottle with no Batch no. I will be asking for the batch no. in future.

I'll check out what my pharmacist drives :-D The cheeky blighter took 2 weeks off last year but left the pharmacy in good hands. I suppose he's entitled, open 9-6 Mon-Sat. Wonder what he gets up to on Sundays :o

Pharmacy is smack middle in a parade of shops awash with dodgy vans and lorries.

Rumours in the community would be me nattering to myself.

I don't think I'm cut out for sleuthing :-D


This decanting is madness. If the manufacturer's packaging is not adequate, the manufacturer should be encouraged (very strongly) to improve it. Decanting and thereby removing all evidence of batch number and expiry date is simply not acceptable as a "usual practice". (I'll allow that things like that might have to happen for patients who cannot cope.)

I'd like to think I would point-blank refuse to accept decanting - but the real world has a habit of circumventing the best of intentions and firmest of beliefs. :-) :-)


There's always been a PIL, batch and expiry on the tubs, just not on the bottle picked up last time. I think Liothyronine must be supplied loose to hospital and independent pharmacies. I've never seen it in blister packs.

Interestingly my scrip was changed to 30mcgs/1.5 tablets daily but I'm still given 56 tablets monthly. Handy to build a little stash to the 400 Tiromel to tide me over the next shortage :)


You may also like...