People will 'end up in A&E' if a drug shortage is not resolved this winter, according to the Irish Pharmacy Union.
IPU President Dermot Twomey was speaking as Ireland is facing delays in procuring some drugs.
He told The Pat Kenny Show there are currently shortages across more than 500 dispensary lines.
"It's across the spectrum," he said.
"I just had a look this morning at our shortage list that we get form the ICU each month, and a rough head count is that there's 550 dispensary lines that are short at the moment.
"In particular there's some key areas such as paracetamol and prednisolone.
"Both of these would be used in respiratory illnesses and obviously through COVID.
"It's just unacceptable that at this stage of the season that these key medicines are not available for the public."
'Combination' of factors
Mr Twomey said there needs to be some 'root cause analysis' as to why there is a shortage of certain products.
"Sometimes this could be a manufacturing issue, it could be a distribution issue and it could be a pricing issue," he said.
"Very often it's a combination of all three."
He said some companies do not see supplying Ireland as economical.
"I suppose what's happened over the years is that the price of a very many of these common medicines has been driven down to such a level that it's either uneconomic - or there are better or easier markets - in order to distribute these products in Europe.
"We're an island on the western seaboard of Europe, we've a small market.
"Ultimately it may be more profitable to market these lines in other jurisdictions, particularly when there are shortages across Europe as well".
He said the shortage could see more people hospitalised here.
"We're the gatekeeper, we're there at the end of the chain, and it's very difficult for pharmacies - but extremely difficult for the patients - that all of these issues are happening upstream of where we're dispensing from.
"The State needs to stand up and be involved here and try and ensure that, around certain key medicines, that Ireland are [sic] able to procure those [and] have them available for patients.
"I suppose ultimately what we're looking at is that [if] patients can't get these key medicines, there are going to downstream effects.
"If you're looking at prednisolone and medicines of a similar [nature] for a respiratory illness, we're now in the middle of winter, people are going to end up in A&E," he added.