U.K. calls summit over medicines shortages

You all know pharma's problems with what Europe calls "parallel exports." Either way, the purchase of drugs in one low-cost country for resale in a higher-priced market cuts into pharma profits and messes with the supply-and-demand balancing act.

It's the latter problem that's afflicting the U.K. these days, as "unscrupulous speculators" sell National Health Service meds abroad for profit. And drugmakers aren't the only ones ticked off about it. Severe shortages of certain meds have prompted government ministers to call a summit with pharmaceuticals companies and pharmacies to try to hammer out a new strategy.

Apparently, part of the problem is the fact that the pound is weak against the euro right now, making resale of British meds more lucrative. Even some hospitals are doing it: The Royal Surrey County Hospital admitted selling a load of drugs at a profit of £300,000 (roughly $448,000).

Sure to be up for discussion: The quotas that wholesalers and drugmakers have set for individual pharmacies in an attempt to combat exporting; these quotas sometimes touch off local shortages of certain meds, causing problems for those pharmacies. The rest of the supply chain will come in for examination, too.

- read the story in the Telegraph