Medicine Shortages

Medicine Shortages

Shortages of medicines are becoming an increasingly frequent issue that can hinder pharmacy teams’ efforts to dispense medicines in a timely manner. PSNC is very concerned about the impact that current supply problems are having on pharmacy teams’ workload and about the potential impact on their patients.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) produces a monthly update of shortages for primary and secondary care, this can be found on the Specialist Pharmacy Service (SPS) website.

Please report any new medicine shortages not listed on the SPS website using our online reporting form if you have not been able to source stock of a medicine from any supplier or manufacturer. The PSNC medicine shortage reporting form is intended for use by pharmacy teams only. Information on the reported medicine may be shared with the DHSC’s medicine supply team.

If a medicine is not affected by a shortage but is unavailable to purchase from your supplier(s) at or below the Drug Tariff listed price, please report the pricing issue to PSNC to consider a request for a price concession.

Current Shortages & Supply Notices

Below is a table of the medicine shortages notified by DHSC and NHS England:

Date Drug Expected date of availability
15/11/2019 Synphase tablets  20th December 2019
15/11/2019 Pethidine 50mg tablets  6th December 2019
15/11/2019 Disopyramide 150mg capsules 13th December 2019
15/11/2019 Minims Phenylephrine 2.5% & 10% eye drops January 2020
05/11/2019 Procyclidine (Kemadrin) 5mg/ml injection March 2020
01/11/2019 Salofalk (mesalazine) 500mg and 1g suppositories Late November – mid December
01/11/2019 Delmosart (methylphenidate) 18mg prolonged-release tablets Mid November 2019
01/11/2019 Jext 300 microgram adrenaline auto-injectors Ongoing
25/10/2019 Seroxat (paroxetine) 20mg/10ml oral solution  January 2020
25/10/2019 Opicapone (Ongentys) 50mg capsules January 2020
15/10/2019 Ranitidine all oral formulations  Ongoing
03/10/2019 Adrenaline auto-injectors Ongoing
25/09/2019 Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Supply Issues  Ongoing
20/09/2019 Fluoxetine 10mg, 30mg and 40mg capsules (active SSPs) Early December 2019
20/09/2019 Medroxyprogesterone acetate (Provera) 100mg & 200mg tablets December 2019
16/09/2019 Mianserin 10mg and 30mg tablets End of 2019
11/09/2019 Capsaicin cream (Zacin and Axsain) End November 2019
09/08/2019 Methadone 5mg tablets (Physeptone 5mg tablets) Late October 2019
15/07/2019 Phenelzine sulfate (Nardil) 15mg tablets End October 2019
22/05/2019 Diamorphine 5mg injections  October 2019
03/05/2019 Phenytoin (Epanutin) 50mg Infatabs November 2019

Manufacturer stock availability updates

AstraZeneca

GSK

MSD

Epipen (Mylan)

Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs)

In some circumstances, where a shortage of a medicine is severe, pharmacists may be able to follow a Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP) issued by the Government to provide patients with an alternative product or quantity to their original prescribed treatment; but in other cases they may need to refer a patient back to their prescriber to find an alternative product to ensure they receive treatment as quickly as possible. Click here to view the latest Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs).

Possible causes of shortages

We know that supply issues can occur due to a range of unforeseen events and may be down to a combination of factors including:

  • Manufacturing issues or disruption
  • Capacity issues
  • Commercial withdrawal
  • Intervention in market mechanisms in the pricing of medicines and drug reimbursement
  • Drug recalls and quality issues
  • Availability of raw ingredients including active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) shortages
  • Increased demand
  • Distribution and logistical problems
  • Excessive parallel exporting due to currency fluctuations – less favourable exchange rates
  • Unexpected national demand
  • Stockpiling and panic buying
  • Supply quotas

Further Resources

A guide to managing medicines supply and shortages (DHSC and NHSE&I)

Reporting generic pricing issues 

Price concessions

Price concession briefing – How the price concession system operates. 

Information on medicines supply for patients

Serious Shortage Protocols

Email newsletter sign up 

Department of Health and Social Care and ABPI Guidance

Department of Health and Social Care and BGMA Guidance



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