Drug quota issues and shortages reporting

Drug quota issues and shortages reporting

September 21, 2020

Recently, PSNC launched a quota issues reporting tool for pharmacy teams to feedback their experiences in obtaining stock of drugs that are subject to wholesaler or manufacturer-led drug quota allocation restrictions. Since June 2020, PSNC has gathered over 320 contractor reports from 140 unique contractors for over 60 drugs reported to be affected by manufacturer and/or wholesaler-led quota restrictions.


The monthly reports have been shared the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA), Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and specific manufacturers/wholesalers of the reported drug(s). Our initial observations from the reports received over the last three months indicate (not in order of priority):


  • Problems with prescription validation processes – nearly half of all respondents reported that they were unsuccessful in obtaining stock despite carrying out wholesaler or manufacturer-led prescription validation.
  • Challenges with the Solus or Reduced Wholesaler Agreement (RWA) distribution models – particularly for those contractors who do not use any of the nominated wholesaler(s) as their first line wholesaler.
  • Significant time spent by pharmacy teams navigating through wholesaler/manufacturer-led quota allocation processes to obtain individual products – nearly a third of contractors reported spending more than 2 days sourcing a drug due to quota issues
  • Few reports of actual or risk to patient harm arising due to quota allocations. In some cases, patients were referred to their prescriber for an alternative
  • Communication challenges between pharmacy-wholesaler and manufacturer
  • Caps on existing drug quota allocations are not being reviewed or lifted by wholesalers despite contractors building up a sufficient order history with their wholesalers.


PSNC has used these findings as evidence to support further investigation into both individual and wider supply issues created by wholesaler/manufacturer drug quota allocation processes and is seeking improvements to these.  We would be grateful if LPCs can communicate this update to local pharmacies to encourage ongoing reporting of any quota issues. Link to PSNCs quota reporting form can be accessed here.


PSNC is aware that drug shortages also continue to hinder pharmacy teams’ efforts to supply drugs in a timely manner. The DHSC Medicine Supply Team provides a monthly update on potential supply issues affecting both primary and secondary care and this update is uploaded on the Specialist Pharmacy Services (SPS) website. The September 2020 supply update was published earlier today (17 September) and individuals with an NHSmail account can register and log-in to the SPS website to gain access to the latest updates.


Any new or known drug shortages can be reported to PSNC using the shortage reporting tool ​and all reports are shared with DHSC’s Medicine Supply team. The reports often provide a first indicator to a broader supply issue and allow DHSC to focus on any newly reported lines to investigate what is contributing to the reported delays experienced in supply


With Brexit looming and concerns around expected drug shortages and supply issues, PSNC is keen to encourage contractors to continue to submit reports of ongoing quota issues and shortages to help strengthen PSNC’s representation work around the supply chain. Quick links to reporting forms are available on the homepage of PSNC’s website or see direct links below:

Quota issues: https://psnc.org.uk/dispensing-supply/supply-chain/supply-issues-feedback/report-quota-issues/

Shortages: https://psnc.org.uk/dispensing-supply/supply-chain/shortage-reporting-form/

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