Paracetamol, the ubiquitous painkiller used to treat everything from headaches to muscle aches, is currently in short supply in Irish pharmacies.
Five separate forms of the painkiller are currently on the list of unavailable medicines maintained by Ireland’s medicines regulator, the Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).
They include effervescent Solpadol, three distinct types of paracetamol tablets and one that comes in liquid form.
Industry sources said the problem with paracetamol was an ongoing difficulty in obtaining the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) from India, where much of it is manufactured.
However, the delay in securing the API is only cited as the reason for the missing shelves for one of the five, a Paralief version of the tablet. Other reasons cited for shortages are shipping delays, quality control issues, and surprisingly high demand.
In one case, the tablet is not expected to be available until October, although the other four have all told the regulator they expect supplies to be available to Irish consumers by mid-May or June .
Several pharmacies in the state said supplies were limited but as of this writing have not run out.
The squeeze on supplies of the most common painkiller came amid ongoing controversy over the lack of supplies of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for women across the state.
MEP Frances Fitzgerald said she had been contacted recently by many constituents in Dublin about the shortage of HRT products and had raised the issue with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.
In his response, he said the HPRA reported that the supply of a range of HRT patches increased from 77% to 117% this year for its three most used strengths, compared to 2020.
“Additionally, based on demand over the past few months, the company expects a similar increase in demand for all strengths in 2022,” the minister wrote. “This would mean that the use of this patch in Ireland would be around 4.5 to 7.5 times higher in 2022 (depending on strength) compared to 2019.”
Ms Fitzgerald tweeted afterwards: “Women’s health must not be put on the back burner yet – @DonnellyStephen must act now to speed up HRT deliveries.
“Menopause can be an absolute nightmare, but HRT drugs allow women to get on with their lives without living with horrible side effects,” she said. “Women will face enormous physical and psychological problems if this is not resolved as soon as possible.”