A BREAST cancer patient from York says she is “disgusted” by a shortage of the drug she and hundreds of other women rely on to reduce the risk of the disease returning.

Mother-of-two Marion Barclay, 45, said the situation became so serious last Friday, she faced the prospect of missing her daily dose of Arimidex tablets.

Her local chemist, Gill Pharmacy, in Bishopthorpe, had been unable to obtain the drug from the wholesaler or manufacturer and was forced to send a driver on an emergency 16-mile round trip to pick up the drug from another Gill Pharmacy, in Tadcaster.

David Gill, who owns the pharmacy chain and is also chairman of North Yorkshire Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said the shortage – which began last September – was creating huge problems. He said: “So far we have never not been able to supply Arimidex to our customers. But the shortage has increased our workload because it is extremely time consuming trying to source it, and most of all we are anxious that patients might not get the supplies.

“Continuity of medication is extremely important with that particular drug and it would be incredibly distressing if the patient had to miss medication.

“It would interrupt the treatment and could jeopardise its success.”

He said the manufacturer, AstraZeneca, had told him that if the wholesaler was out of stock, he should contact AstraZeneca’s emergency line and the drug would be made available within 24 hours.

But Mr Gill said that last Friday, when he had been trying to obtain Arimidex for Mrs Barclay, his staff had not been able to get through on this line. Mrs Barclay, who lives in Bishopthorpe, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. After undergoing surgery and chemotherapy, she embarked on a five-year course of Arimidex in 2006.

The mother-of-two, who works as an English teacher at Millthorpe School, in York, said: “It’s scandalous that women are having difficulty getting this drug.

“It’s absolutely atrocious and I can’t believe AstraZeneca are getting away with it.

“I’m hopefully coming to the end, but I feel for the women who have just finished their chemotherapy and are starting on this drug.

“They will be feeling anxious anyway and then they will go to their local chemist and be told there’s this problem with getting it – it’s an extra stress that they just don’t need.

“It’s not the fault of the local chemists and the staff at Gill Pharmacy were brilliant in helping me last Friday.”