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:
Manufacturer stock availability updates
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
A guide to managing medicines supply and shortages (DHSC and NHSE&I)