The Department of Health has warned pharmacists not to stockpile swine flu medicines because this could undermine the NHS’s ability to cope with a pandemic.

In a letter to pharmacy bodies, chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge called on pharmacists to act responsibly and professionally in maintaining medicine stocks for patients.

‘Compromise the NHS’

He said: “Failure to do so, for example by entering into arrangements or agreements which reduce the volume of medicines in the UK medicines supply chain, could compromise the ability of the NHS to respond appropriately to this situation, as well as potentially adversely affecting individual patient care and health.”

Dr Ridge said steps were being taken nationally to secure “antibiotics that may be required for secondary infections in the short term and strengthen the supply chain in general for the longer term”.

Central stocks

He said the emergency preparedness division of the Department of Health was monitoring stock levels in conjunction with the Health Protection Agency and was ready to support health protection units with central stocks “if this is considered necessary”.