A ‘large number’ of Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP) claims submitted by pharmacy owners have been deemed invalid by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), Community Pharmacy England (CPE) has said.

This is due to ‘incorrect endorsements’ being applied by the Patient Medication Record (PMR) system or by pharmacy staff, the pharmacy negotiator said.

And it encouraged pharmacy teams to keep a tally of the number of SSPs carried out as they did them, to check this number against the total produced by their systems.

It also urged teams to regularly reconcile the value of SSP fees on their payment schedules against the number of SSPs declared on the FP34C submission form.

CPE has issued a new seven-step guide to help contractors check that they are correctly filing SSP claims and receiving the correct payments.

And it has previously highlighted common pitfalls such as listing the incorrect item, SSP number or writing the details of the drug that was prescribed rather than that which was dispensed instead.

If pharmacy contractors do believe that they followed the correct SSP endorsing guidance but there is still a payment discrepancy, they are able to request a re-check of relevant prescriptions.

This comes as new SSPs have been published this week for Estradot 100mcg patches and Jext 300mcg/0.3ml (1 in 1000) solution for injection auto-injector pen.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has also issued medicine supply notifications for:

  • Minims Oxybuprocaine hydrochloride 0.4% eye drops 0.5ml unit dose
  • Minims Proxymetacaine 0.5% eye drops 0.5ml unit dose
  • Minims Povidone Iodine 5% w/v eye drops, solution
  • Pilocarpine hydrochloride 2% eye drops
  • Phenytoin sodium 100mg capsules (Accord)
  • Estradiol (Estradot®) 25micrograms/24 hours, 37.5micrograms/24 hours and 100micrograms/24 hours transdermal patches

Financial analysis company BMI suggested in a report published this week that medicines supply issues in general could be related to an over-reliance on India and Mainland China for active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) production, which skews global supply.

And it added that manufacturing is often concentrated to particular manufacturers or geographic areas, meaning that any regional disruption risks disrupting the supply chain as a whole.

The report also suggested that increased costs were driving pharmaceutical manufacturers to prioritise manufacturing in markets ‘where a profit can be made’, which might also lead to a reduction in quality or make them more vulnerable to manufacturing issues.

Martin Sawer, executive director of the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA UK), was recently interviewed by The Pharmacist about the ‘myriad of issues’ contributing to medicines shortages, including issues with ingredients, manufacturing and generics pricing in the UK potentially leading to pharmaceutical companies choosing to supply their products elsewhere.