The serious shortage protocol (SSP) issued to combat an antidepressant shortage has been extended into September, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced yesterday (2 June).
The government first authorised an SSP on fluoxetine 10mg tablets earlier this year (12 March) which was due to expire on 12 June. However, the SSP has now been extended by three more months, and will now expire on 11 September.
The measures have been extended to ‘manage stock’ and also to ‘try to ensure that fewer patients have to return to their prescriber’, the body said.
Under the protocol, pharmacists are able to supply fluoxetine 10mg capsules in place of fluoxetine 10mg tablets.
‘The pharmacist must exercise their professional judgement to ensure the alternative product is suitable for the patient,’ PSNC explained.
It added: ‘This expiry date may be brought forward or extended, and the content may be amended throughout this period. Pharmacists should ensure they are using the current version of an SSP before supplying an alternative product.’
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.
Last month, 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.