First Serious Shortage Protocols issued

The Government has authorised the first Serious Shortage Protocols (SSP), for the antidepressant fluoxetine, enabling pharmacists in England to supply an alternative strength or pharmaceutical form of fluoxetine when patients have a prescription for the 10mg, 30mg and 40mg capsules, which are currently in shortage.

Further information, including operational guidance and a Q&A, is available from the NHS Business Authority.

SSPs are a new measure, enshrined in legislation this year, intended to speed up patient access to treatment in the event of the prescribed medicine being in serious shortage. Today is the first time that an SSP has been issued.

You can read about Serious Shortage Protocols on the NHS website.


Chair of RPS in England, Claire Anderson, said:

“Pharmacists are experts in medicines and work hard every day dealing with medicines shortages. We support the use of Serious Shortage Protocols to enable and empower pharmacists to help patients access appropriate medicines.

“This will support patients’ health, reduce time spent going back to their GP for a new prescription, and save pharmacists time spent finding alternative suppliers.

“As more SSPs are issued in future, it will be important the Government and NHS publish information for health professionals and members of the public on how they work.”


The Government has also today confirmed new restrictions on the export of all variations of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products, which currently face supply shortages due to manufacturing issues, as well as a further five medicines, including all adrenaline auto-injectors and hepatitis B vaccines. You can read the list of medicines here.


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