The serious shortage protocol (SSP) issued in response to ‘significant ongoing disruption to the supply of fluoxetine 40mg’ has been extended to August, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced last week (16 June).
The Department of Health and Social Care first authorised an SSP on fluoxetine 20mg capsules in May of this year which was due to expire this week (20 July). However, the SSP has now been extended by 20 more days, and will now expire on 10 August.
Under the protocol, pharmacists are able to supply two fluoxetine 20mg capsules in place of each fluoxetine 40mg capsule.
Pharmacy contractors can expect to receive reimbursement for the medicine supplied ‘in accordance with the SSP and not the originally prescribed medicine’, PSNC explained.
‘Supply in accordance with the SSP will result in contractors [being paid] [for] one single activity fee (currently £1.27) [and] one SSP fee (£5.35),’ it added.
SSPs came into force last year through legislation 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.
In May, The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) called upon the Health Select Committee to give pharmacists the ability to switch patients’ prescriptions without consulting a doctor, to help minimise any delays in providing patients with medications.
Ongoing SSPs can be found on the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) website.