UK Pharmacists Able to Supply Alternative Penicillin to Treat Strep A
Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) have been issued across the United Kingdom for three penicillin medicines to treat Strep A. SSPs are a standard procedure, used frequently to manage temporary and potential medicine supply issues. They are a safe and effective way to ensure that medicines continue to be available for everyone who needs them, while saving time for patients, pharmacists and prescribers.
Issuing an SSP allows pharmacists to legally supply a specified alternative medicine, removing the need for the patient to return to the prescriber – which saves time in GP practices and inconvenience for patients. Usually when a patient presents a prescription, by law, the pharmacist can only supply what is on the prescription. If the medicine isn’t available, the patient must be sent back to the prescriber to get a new prescription for an alternative.
Demand for penicillin has risen recently as it is used to treat Strep A and Scarlet Fever, and the increased demand means that some pharmacists are experiencing temporary and localised supply issues and may not have the specific formulation listed on the prescription. There are nine other SSPs currently active and have been used to improve patients’ access to Hormone Replacement Therapy drugs and were used extensively during the pandemic.
Minister of State for Health, The Department of Health and Social Care, Will Quince, said, “The increased demand for the antibiotics prescribed to treat Strep A has meant some pharmacists have been unable to supply the medicine shown on the prescription. These Serious Shortage Protocols will allow pharmacists to supply an alternative form of penicillin, which will make things easier for them, patients, and GPs.
“We are taking decisive action to address these temporary issues and improve access to these medicines by continuing to work with manufacturers and wholesalers to speed up deliveries, bring forward stock they have to help ensure it gets to where it’s needed, and boost supply to meet demand as quickly as possible.”
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