The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has issued a serious shortage protocol (SSP) for arthritis medicine Salazopyrin 500mg tablets (sulfasalazine), used to reduce joint inflammation, pain and swelling.

The SSP has been issued ‘in response to significant ongoing disruption to the supply of Salazopyrin 500mg tablets,’ the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said yesterday (16 March).

The SSPs was introduced yesterday (16 March) and applies to pharmacies in England and Wales.

Under the SSP, pharmacy teams can substitute Salazopyrin 500mg tablets with Sulfasalazine 500mg tablets.

The SSP is set to expire on 25 March but may be ‘amended or revoked at any time’, according to PSNC.

It comes after the SSP for antidepressant fluoxetine 10mg capsules was recently extended again by three months, with the formulation being on the SSP list for three years.

Reimbursement is ‘for the medicine supplied in accordance with the SSP and not the originally prescribed medicine,’ the PSNC said.

This means that under the SSPs, contractors will be reimbursed the drug tariff part VIIIA price for Sulfasalazine 500mg tablets, the negotiator explained.

A full list of SSPs can be found on the NHS Business Services Authority website.