Serious shortage protocols (SSP) for 30mg capsules and 10mg tablets of fluoxetine have been extended into the summer, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said.

This will be the second time 30mg capsules of the antidepressant have been placed under an SSP, and the third time the existing SSP has been extended since October.

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

Under the protocol, pharmacists can supply an alternative of one fluoxetine 10mg and one 20mg capsule for every fluoxetine 30mg capsule they need to replace.

The SSP will now end on 13 August, however it ‘may be brought forward or extended’ during this time, an update from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) explained.

Similarly, the SSP for 10mg fluoxetine tablets, which has been in place for over a year, and was due to expire on 17 May 2021 has also been extended to 13 August.

Under the protocol, pharmacists can supply an alternative of one fluoxetine 10mg capsule for every fluoxetine 10mg tablet they need to replace.

Another SSP for 40mg capsules of fluoxetine — which has been in place since the beginning of this year (January 2021) — expired yesterday (17 May) as ‘sufficient stocks’ of the drug are now ‘available to meet normal demand’, the DHSC has said.

Fluoxetine has been placed under an SSP seven times since the mechanism – aimed to mitigate the impact of medicines drug shortages – was introduced in 2019.

Earlier this year, the DHSC told the Pharmacist that Advanz Pharma – the UK’s main supplier - was experiencing a ‘temporary supply issue’ with resupply of the 30mg and 40mg capsules.

It added that the 10mg tablets are marketed solely by Endo Ventures Limited in the UK, with ‘resupply expected Q3 2021’.

DHSC said at the time it was working with both companies to ‘expedite the next deliveries where possible’. A full list of active SSPs has been published on the NHS Business Services Authority’s website.