Supply of controlled drugs under a Serious Shortage Protocol during a pandemic

Changes to controlled drug legislation1 2 give Ministers in Great Britain and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland the flexibility to allow serious shortage protocols to be issued for all controlled drugs (CDs) during a pandemic.

These are contingency changes which are only ‘activated’ by an announcement by a Secretary of State which specifies:

  • When the change comes into effect
  • How long the change is effective for, and
  • The geographical area this change applies to.

Action should be taken only in accordance with national operational guidance which will be issued in each of the home countries before the enabling changes are needed.

This guide has taken into account correspondence between the Home Office and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and applies across the United Kingdom.


1 The Misuse of Drugs (Coronavirus) (Amendments Relating to the Supply of Controlled Drugs During a Pandemic etc.) Regulations 2020

2 The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020