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Medicines shortages

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee adds five medicines to list of shortages

The latest medicines added to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s Medicine Shortages list are set to be out of stock until the end of 2019, with some stretching into January 2020. 

Shelf of medicines

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Medicines supply issues may be down to active pharmaceutical ingredients shortages, recalls and transport problems

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has added five medicine shortages to its list of notifactions from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England, bringing the total to 21 medicines shortages in the UK.

The latest set of shortage notices, which were all added on 15 Novermber 2019, note that several medicines, including the opioid pethidine (Martindale Pharma), will not be available until mid-to-late-December 2019 and some will not be available until January 2020. 

The supply of medroxyprogesterone acetate (Provera; Pfizer) 100mg tablets is delayed until 13 December 2019, while the 200mg tablets are out of stock until 20 December 2019. Pethidine 50mg tablets will be out of stock until early December 2019; and Minims phenylephrine (Bausch & Lomb) 2.5% and 10% w/v eye drops will be out of stock from the end of November 2019 until early January 2020.

In addition, Synphase (ethinylestradiol and norethisterone; Pfizer) tablets will be out of stock until 20 December 2019 and disopyramide (Mylan) 150mg capsules will be out of stock until 13 December 2019.

Mike Dent, director of pharmacy funding at the PSNC, said that recent improvements in the information that manufacturers and suppliers shared with the DHSC meant that the PSNC was being alerted to more shortage issues by the DHSC’s medicines supply team, which had inevitably led to an increase in the number of shortage notices posted on the PSNC website.

However, he said that the PSNC is still “very concerned” about the impact of the shortages on pharmacy teams.

“Shortages of generic medicines are a long-acknowledged problem and can hinder pharmacy teams’ efforts to dispense medicines in a timely manner,” he said.

“The PSNC is very concerned about the impact that supply problems are having on pharmacy teams’ workload and about the potential impact on their patients.”

Dent added that supply issues could occur as a result of a range of “unforeseen events”, such as active pharmaceutical ingredients shortages, recalls by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and transport problems, meaning that issues often arise “with little warning”.

“The PSNC supports the introduction of serious shortage protocols, as well as the government’s recent steps to prevent the export of medicines, such as adrenaline auto-injectors and hormone replacement therapy products from the UK — both measures should help to ensure that community pharmacies can continue to source the medicines that their patients need.”

Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, acknowledged that the news of medicines shortages could be “alarming” for patients who take regular medications.

“We urge patients to try not to panic — and not to attempt to stockpile medicines,” she said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207358

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