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Finnish pharmacies still grapple with drug delivery problems

Nearly a year after a spate of problems with pharmaceutical deliveries, many pharmacies still have to turn away customers due to a lack of supply.

Lääkkeitä apteekissa.
Availability issues have caused problems for pharmacies, including customer dissatisfaction. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

Most pharmacies in Finland still have trouble obtaining medicines, according to a study published at the University of Eastern Finland on Monday.

Of some 130 pharmacies tracked over the period of a month, 80 percent recorded problems in the supply of pharmaceuticals on a daily or near-daily basis.

The study suggests that the procurement problems stem from the small size of the Finnish market and abrupt changes in demand.

There were problems with widely-used drugs such as central nervous system agents and those used to treat heart and cardiovascular disease.

Customers dissatisfied

The study found that one third of the availability issues caused significant problems for the pharmacies, such as customer dissatisfaction and difficulties in inventory management.

Researcher Kati Sarnola says that pharmaceutical companies and wholesalers should become better at providing information to pharmacies.

“Often, pharmacies do not know the reason for problems in obtaining a medicine, or when it will become available again. This information would however be useful in customer service situations,” Sarnola says.

Last autumn, major pharmaceutical wholesaler Oriola had persistent problems in drug deliveries. The company blamed a new enterprise resource planning system.

Oriola delivers about half of all medicines sold in Finland to pharmacies, hospitals and other facilities. The company still works closely with its former parent company, Orion, Finland’s biggest pharmaceutical firm.

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