After we investigated complaints from men unable to get hold of the off-patent prostate cancer drug, bicalutamide, the British Generic Manufacturers' Association has told us problems with supply shouldn't last long.

25 Jan 2018

Towards the end of 2017, we started receiving reports from men that they were struggling to get prescriptions filled for bicalutamide, a hormone therapy medication for advanced prostate cancer. Pharmacists were telling them that the off-patent medicine, along with a range of other generic drugs, was low in supply and so they were unavailable to get hold of it.

We've investigated what might be causing the supply shortages and discovered that regulators had forced four generic medicine manufacturers to suspend their production in the summer of last year. This may have had the knock-on effect of reducing the supply of some generic drugs, as well as increasing their prices.

We're not sure if these manufacturers have resumed production or if this is the root cause of the problem. But the British Generic Manufacturers' Association has told us that this problem should only last for "a small number of months".

The Department of Health and NHS England say they are looking into the issue. We've written to them both, as well as the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, urging them to ensure that patients can access these treatments and more information is made available to people on the changing situation.

We're hopeful that things will return to normal soon. In the meantime, if you're unable to get a medicine or other treatment that you need, you should immediately consult your GP or prescribing clinician.

We'd also like to know if you're having difficulty getting hold of bicalutamide. Please email us with your experiences.

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