The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has issued two serious shortage protocols (SSPs) for cholesterol medicine Lipitor in 10mg and 20mg chewable tablets, which are used to prevent cardiovascular disease.

The SSPs have been issued ‘in response to significant ongoing disruption to the supply of Lipitor® 10mg & 20mg chewable tablets,’ the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said today (15 February).

The SSPs have been introduced from today and apply to pharmacies in England and Wales.

Under the SSPs, pharmacy teams can substitute Lipitor 10mg and 20mg chewable tablets with one Atorvastatin 10mg or 20mg tablets respectively.

The SSP for Lipitor 10mg chewable tablets is set to expire on 25 February but may be ‘amended or revoked at any time’, according to  PSNC.

While the SSP for Lipitor 20mg chewable tablets is due to expire on 11 March, but this could also change at any time.

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  Atorvastatin 10mg & 20mg chewable tablets, the negotiator explained.

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