The first serious shortage protocol (SSP), issued to combat antidepressant shortages, is to expire tomorrow (25 October) now that stock has returned to ‘sufficient’ levels, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has announced.

The Government authorised its first three SSPs earlier this month (3 October), allowing community pharmacists in England to supply an alternative strength or formulation of the antidepressant fluoxetine to patients who had a prescription for the 10mg, 30mg and 40mg capsules.

In July, legislation came into force that allows community pharmacists in England to provide appropriate alternatives to patients in the event of serious medicine shortages without having to go back to the patient’s GP for an updated script.

PSNC said today (24 Ocotber): ‘Following the successful implementation of SSP01, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced that sufficient stock of fluoxetine 10mg capsules is now available to supply normal demand; as a result the SSP01 for Fluoxetine 10mg capsules is being withdrawn from 23.55 Friday 25th October 2019.

‘Any prescriptions for fluoxetine 10mg capsules after this date must be dispensed in accordance with the prescription, as the SSP will no longer be valid for use.’


Other SSPs still in place


The SSPs for fluoxetine 30mg capsules and 40mg capsules remain in place and are currently due to expire on 31st October 2019, PSNC said.

The negotiator added: ‘This expiry date may be brought forward or extended, and the content may be amended throughout this period.

‘Pharmacists should ensure they are using the current version of an SSP before supplying an alternative product.’

Up-to-date versions of SSPs can be found on the dedicated NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) website.