News

Matt Hancock urged: stop withdrawal of lithium drug

We write to Secretary of State

We've partnered with the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the College of Mental Health pharmacy, the Royal College of GPs and patient groups to urge Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock MP to ensure Priadel, a brand of lithium taken by people with bipolar disorder, remains available to treat patients in the UK and to avert a huge increase in price the NHS pays for the drug.

Lithium is an essential medicine recommended by NICE to treat bipolar disorder and help prevent suicide. It's been estimated that one in a hundred people have bipolar disorder and one in five of these take lithium.

Essential Pharma own the rights to Priadel, and have announced it is withdrawing the brand in April 2021. It also owns the other main brand of lithium, Camcolit, which costs almost 12 times more than Priadel. 

Switching treatment can destabilize patients, risking either the medicine becoming less effective, or building to toxic levels causing severe side-effects including kidney damage. It therefore requires added reviews, extra tests and close monitoring of patients, increasing pressure on primary care and mental health services already over-stretched by the pandemic.

Priadel currently costs £4.02 for a pack of 400mg tablets. Camcolit costs  £48.18 per pack of 400mg tablets. In direct drug costs alone, it’s estimated that this will cost the NHS approximately £15 million annually.  

Dr Ian Maidment, RPS spokesperson and Reader in Clinical Pharmacy at Aston University said: “Withdrawing Priadel could put thousands of patients at unnecessary risk of harm. Being unable to get the same brand and dose will affect the physical and mental health of many. We want the Secretary of State to personally intervene to maintain supplies of Priadel so patients with bipolar disorder can still get this vital medicine.”

Ciara Ni Dhubhlaing, President of the College of Mental Health Pharmacy, said: “Pharmacists are already reporting stock shortages and we are deeply concerned about the withdrawal of this essential treatment for this vulnerable patient group. This will cost the NHS millions more each year at a time when finances and services are already stretched due COVID-19.”

Read the full letter to Matt Hancock.

 

Listen to Ian Maidment on Times Radio:

Loading...

We need your support.

PharmacyCross

Your dedication and commitment during the pandemic has been exceptional.

As we brace for a surge of coronavirus infections, we know that pharmacy will be at the forefront of delivering healthcare.

Whether it’s flu vaccinations or dealing with local lockdowns we need decisions and assurances from the Government to make sure our profession can cope. We must make sure pharmacists get enough supplies of PPE, rapid access to testing in all care settings, and the recognition you deserve.

You told us that our leadership and resources during in the early months of the pandemic were of critical importance. We are now updating our highly valued COVID-19 resources and training webinars to make sure they reflect current - and changing - guidance.

If the enormous mental and physical strain of the past few months is repeated ahead of this winter, the health service will be on its knees. We will be there to make sure pharmacists get mental health and wellbeing support.

We will continue to work hard to give you the tools and guidance to do your job safely. And fight to make sure you get the recognition you deserve.
We are proud to support you. But without members, none of this will be possible.

Become a member and help us do even more.
Joining costs just 60p a day. And means that, whatever the future holds, we will be here for you, so you can support the public and patients.

Join today to protect the future of pharmacy