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Medicines shortages

Pharmacists in devolved nations can follow serious shortage protocols from 31 October 2019

The Scottish government is introducing new legislation in preparation for a potential no-deal Brexit scenario.

Legislation enabling the use of serious shortage protocols (SSPs) in Scotland will come into effect from 31 October 2019, the Scottish government has said.

In a letter signed by Rose Marie Parr, chief pharmaceutical officer for Scotland, dated 16 October 2019, the government outlines its preparations in case of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October 2019.

It says that, in the event of a medicines shortage that is considered to have a “medium”, “high” or “critical” impact after Brexit, a Scottish medicines shortages response group will issue a medicine supply alert notice (MSAN) to community pharmacies.

The letter added that MSANs “may be supplemented by an individual [SSP]”, with secondary legislation enabling their use “in place from 31 October 2019”.

According to the letter, SSPs in Scotland will only be issued if the shortage is considered to have a “high impact” on patients, where supply problems mean “there are limited or no alternatives in the same therapeutic class and which require significant management, potentially including changes in clinical practice or operational direction, or that have patient safety implications”.

Similar legislation is due to come into force in Wales on 31 October.

Legal amendments to the NHS (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013 that introduced SSPs into the terms of service for community pharmacies in England came into effect from 1 July 2019.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207224

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