Press Release: HDA Launches Infographic to Explain Medicine Availability

Raising Awareness and Building Understanding: HDA Launches Infographic to Explain Medicine Availability


  • Association launches infographic to dispel drug scarcities ambiguity
  • HDA pledges to lead debate and discussion on availability issues


London, 01 October 2019 – The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA) has launched an infographic which identifies the factors that can impact medicine availability, as well as the measures that HDA member distributors undertake daily to help mitigate the risks of patients not receiving their medicines.

To support the project, the HDA commissioned a study of the views of supply chain stakeholders, as part of the Association’s mission to build awareness, understanding and appreciation of the vital importance of the healthcare distribution sector. The research identified transparency surrounding the availability of medicines as a key concern. As a result, the Association has pledged to lead the debate and discussion of the topic, focusing on explaining the factors that can impact medicine availability. The infographic sits at the heart of this work, and HDA is hoping this will begin to enable improved understandings and communications between all the different professionals working hard to get medicines to patients.

Commenting on the launch, the HDA’s Executive Director, Martin Sawer noted:

The infographic demonstrates that there are a number of factors that can influence the availability of medicines between manufacture and delivery to their dispensing point, many of which are actually outside the control of distributors. That said, the HDA and its members work closely with supply chain partners to try to mitigate supply challenges and reduce the number of drug availability incidents.

We are committed to tackling drug shortage issues as best we can, and I hope that the availability infographic dispels some of the ambiguity surrounding drugs scarcities and what causes them, as well as highlights the initiatives our member companies take in their day-to-day operations in order to mitigate supply shortages. It is also worth noting that all our HDA members have signed up to the Association’s Gold Standard of Good Distribution Practice that prioritises the UK patient and their needs within the supply chain.

The infographic highlights the many factors which can have an impact on the availability of drugs, emphasising how they can occur at different points in the supply chain. Some of those stressed in the infographic include:

  • Raw material and quality problems at the manufacturing level (for API’s)
  • Batch release failure
  • Export/import logistics issues
  • Actions by the regulator
  • Manufacturer return on investment
  • Competitor product out of stock
  • Medicine reclassification
  • Changes in patient demographics affecting demand
  • Diversion of stock  


As well as emphasising those factors which can have an impact on the availability of drugs, the infographic also highlights the actions distributors take to try to mitigate supply issues. Some of the measures incorporated in distributors’ standard operating procedures include:

  • Twice-a-day delivery for those products that are in high demand
  • The sourcing of medicines from more than one supplier
  • Stock investment based on forecasting
  • Stock management, including anticipation of seasonal stock demand
  • Cascading where medically appropriate
  • Script-validation (a practice which requires a significant amount of extra resources)
  • The holding of buffer stocks
  • Generous returns regimes
  • Fast-tracking through the distribution system
  • 24/7 out-of-hours procedures


The medicines distribution sector in the UK is the backbone of a high value and secure supply chain that enables patients to get the right treatment, in the right place at the right time. The aggregation and storage of medicines to high regulatory standards enable certainty and security of supply, which minimise potential stock shortages and allows clinicians to source the broadest range of treatments, supplied to even the most remote parts of the four countries of the United Kingdom in an affordable and efficient manner.

See the infographic in full, including a key explaining each stage of the supply, here.

About the Healthcare Distribution Association

The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA UK) represents those businesses who supply medicines, medical devices and healthcare services for patients, pharmacies, hospitals, doctors and the pharmaceutical industry. HDA UK members operate across the 4 nations of the United Kingdom enabling a safe, efficient and high-quality supply chain for the healthcare sector.  They are responsible for distributing over 92% of NHS medicines and provide wholesaling services including working capital, stock management and IT systems to their supply chain partners. The HDA and its members are at the forefront of the constantly evolving healthcare supply chain, which is seeing innovative practices and technologies make new services possible for manufacturers and to those who dispense medicines, reflecting the needs and choices of individual patients.

Contact Information

Will Browne –

Hannah Milne –

Laure Aboulin –

0207 031 0590

View the full size infographic