The two remaining serious shortage protocols (SSPs) issued to combat antidepressant shortages have been extended into November, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced today (30 October).

The Government authorised its first three SSPs earlier this month (3 October), allowing community pharmacists in England to supply an alternative strength or formulation of fluoxetine to patients who had a prescription for the 10mg, 30mg and 40mg capsules.

The protocol covering fluoxetine 30mg capsules has been extended to 20 November 2019, while the protocol for fluoxetine 40mg capsules has a ‘revised end date’ of 11 November 2019, the negotiator announced.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) told The Pharmacist that the measures have been extended due to ongoing supply issues.

SSPs came into force in July 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Last week (25 October), the SSP for fluoxetine 10mg capsules was withdrawn after stock returned to ‘sufficient’ levels.

All three SSPs were originally due to expire tomorrow (31 October).

The negotiator added: ‘Expiry dates may be brought forward or extended, and the content [of the protocols] may be amended throughout this period.

‘Pharmacists should ensure they are using the current version of an SSP before supplying an alternative product’, it stressed.

Up-to-date versions of SSPs can be found on the dedicated NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) website.