A UK health minister has been criticised for his remarks regarding the "inevitable" drug shortages in the country.

AAH Pharmaceuticals managing director and chairman, Mark James, said: "Health minister Simon Burns was in denial over medical shortages after he made written comments in reply to a parliamentary question by MP Margot James, saying ‘some shortages and delivery delays are inevitable’ and that the department has, ‘well established arrangements for dealing with these’."

The chairman continued: "If the Department has ‘well established arrangements’ for dealing with shortages what are these? And if they exist why are they not working? This is a worryingly complacent response which shows no understanding of the scale or seriousness of the problem. The reality is that the guidance produced by the Department of Health has had no impact whatsoever. Problems with the availability of certain medicines are as bad as ever."

Burns’ comments come as the All Party Pharmacy Group continues its inquiry into supply chain shortages, which will take further oral evidence today.

James added: "Wholesalers have put forward constructive proposals including amending regulations to reflect new Patient Service Obligations, independent third party monitoring and improved emergency supply arrangements, but we will not make progress unless the Department of Health is willing to play its part."

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Caption: UK health ministers have said drug shortages are inevitable. Credit: Lori Martin