Four in five NHS trusts in England and Wales say patients are suffering “unacceptable” delays for drugs to treat life-threatening conditions including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and organ failure.
A survey of 60 NHS authorities found that the shortage was doing patients “serious harm”, with some having to be admitted to hospital for emergency treatment after they were unable to get their medicines.
Pharmaceutical companies began rationing drugs to the NHS four years ago after British wholesalers and pharmacies started selling them abroad to take advantage of favourable exchange rates.
But NHS leaders and politicians said that the restrictions had gone too far and urged ministers to intervene and force suppliers to put the interests of British patients first.
Prof John Parkes, the chief executive of NHS Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire, said: “The current restriction in supply imposed by drug companies is harming the public and must be addressed urgently.