‘I have four months’ supply, but after that I am in trouble’ - Stevenage pensioner’s concern over GlaxoSmithKline drug shortage

PUBLISHED: 17:06 17 January 2016

Robert Young with his last four boxes of Zantac medication made by GlaxoSmithKline which he has been unable to get hold of due to a shortage in production

Robert Young with his last four boxes of Zantac medication made by GlaxoSmithKline which he has been unable to get hold of due to a shortage in production

Archant

Pensioner Robert Young would love to keep taking the tablets that help keep ulcers at bay – but he’s getting increasingly anxious about when supplies of the vital drug he needs will be available again.

Robert, 72, of Jessop Road, Stevenage, is worried by a prolonged delay in getting a new stock of the GlaxoSmithKline bestseller Zantac, which he needs to protect him from awful pain while eating and sleeping.

Robert has oesophagitis and has been taking Zantac for more than a decade – but he has been unable to stock up on the drug for about six months.

He said this week: “Before I started taking Zantac 150mg I had bad indigestion and reflux and I often woke up at night with these problems.

“When I was put onto Zantac my symptoms almost vanished.

“Over many years doctors have tried to change the prescription to a generic version mainly to save money, but it appears there is no generic version comparable to the genuine article.”

Zantac, also sometimes known as Ranitidine, decreases stomach acid production. It was invented at Glaxo Pharmaceuticals, now part of GlaxoSmithKline, in 1976, and is on the World Health Organisations’s list of essential medicines.

A spokeswoman for GSK, which has a plant in Stevenage, told the Comet it was unclear when the drug would be back on the shelves.

“We are experiencing stock issues with Zantac and do not yet have a date when it will be available again,” she said. “Patients should speak to their doctor for advice on alternative treatments while Zantac is out of stock.

“We apologise for any inconvenience.”

But Robert said: “I feel a company the size of GlaxoSmithKline should not be allowed to let patients suffer like this.

“I have contacted them several times by phone and spoken to customer services, and they could not give me a date for it to return. Generic is no good and the pharmacy cannot give any information.

“Fortunately I’d stocked up on spares beforehand. I have another four months’ supply, but after that I am in trouble.”

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