High street pharmacies have run out of certain hay fever medicines, due to an industry-wide supply shortage in the UK.

Pharmacies have said the shortage is due to limited stocks of chlorphenamine maleate, the active ingredient in brands such as Piriton, although both Boots and LloydsPharmacy are expecting to have additional stock soon.

A spokesman for Boots said: ‘There are a very small number of lines that are currently out of stock due to a current, industry-wide shortage of the active ingredient.

‘However, we are expecting this to be resolved soon and new deliveries are expected in the coming weeks.’

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for LloydsPharmacy said they are 'currently working with suppliers' to resolve 'supply challenges for a small number of allergy products', which they noted is a situation faced by other retailers.

They continued: 'To ensure customers have access to the products they need, we expect to have stock available of a range that contains chlorphenamine maleate, the same active ingredient as the leading brand, this week.

'LloydsPharmacy also has sufficient stock available within its other allergy products including own brand alternatives such as hay fever and allergy relief tablets, hay fever relief nasal spray, allergy and hay fever eye drops and LloydsPharmacy Allergy Reliver.’

It is understood only four of the 90 hay fever relief products sold by the high street chain are impacted by the shortage.

On Sunday, The Telegraph reported that all Piriton tablets for adults had run out on the websites of Boots, Lloyds Pharmacy and Co-op Pharmacy.

The shortage comes as weather forecasters warn that pollen counts will remain medium to high across much of the UK this week.

Drivers of medicine shortages can include global demand, disruption to the supply chain and manufacturing issues.

In a statement on the shortages, RPS said: ‘Times of uncertainty will significantly exacerbate medicines shortages issues. These include events such as pandemic outbreaks and major constitutional or political changes. However, it must be emphasised that medicines shortages occur for a wide variety of reasons and are now a regular occurrence in community pharmacy.’

The Pharmacist has contacted Co-op Pharmacy for comment.

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to pollen and affects more than 10 million people in England. Symptoms include sneezing and coughing; itchy, red or watery eyes; a runny or blocked nose; and itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears.

The industry is also experiencing a shortage of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), with an HRT Supply Taskforce announced last month to identify ways to support the HRT supply chain.

The shortage is due, in part, to a rise in demand as a result of a greater awareness around the menopause, with a 38% increase in the number of prescription items over the past seven years, the Department of Health and Social Care said when announcing the taskforce.

This comes as PSNC announced three new serious shortage protocols for HRT medicines (to 29 July): Oestrogel Pump-Pack 0.06% gel, Ovestin 1mg cream and Premique Low Dose 0.3mg/1.5mg modified-release tablets.

The creation of the HRT Supply Taskforce comes after Thorrun  Govind, chair of the English Pharmacy Board, voiced concerns about the ‘danger for women’ in obtaining HRT online and through marketplaces, and not through pharmacies.

Community pharmacists and HRT suppliers met with the DHSC on May 5 to discuss disruptions to the supply of HRT medicines.

The RPS is calling for community pharmacists to be able to dispense substitutes for out-of-stock HRT products without having to contact the prescriber.

The HRT shortages also come after prescription data, published in March, suggested HRT prescriptions had doubled over the last five years.