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Covid causes new fluoxetine shortage

By Isabel Shaw

16 Jun 2021

The antidepressant, fluoxetine (Olena) 20mg dispersible sugar free tablets, will be out of stock until the end of this month, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has warned.

The DHSC issued a medicine supply notification this week (14 June) regarding the SSRI and advised that fluoxetine 20mg capsules and fluoxetine 20mg/5ml oral solution is still available and can support the possible ‘uplift in demand’.

The drug’s sole manufacturer — Advanz Pharma — told the Pharmacist yesterday (15 June) that the current shortage was the result of ‘manufacturing issues’.

They also said there had been a ‘decrease in production capacity due to Covid’.

However, the shortage issue has now ‘been resolved’ and the manufacturer anticipates supply with the result as normal by the ‘end of June,’ they added.

Seven serious shortage protocols (SSPs) have been used for various formulations of the drug since the mechanism – aimed to mitigate the impact of medicines drug shortages – was introduced in 2019.

According to the NHS Business Services Authority, there are currently two active SSPs for fluoxetine – SSP007 for the 30mg capsules, SSP05 for 10mg tablets.

The SSP for 10mg tablets has been in place for a year but is due to expire at the end of this August, as is the SSP for 40mg capsules.

Significant ongoing disruption’ to supply has previously been cited as the reason for the shortages.

Earlier this week, the Pharmacist reported that several pharmacy bodies said the SSP does not go far enough to meet the demands of medicine shortages, and more solutions should be considered.

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