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NHS: Drugs

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 206270, tabled on 8 January 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what consultation his Department has undertaken on proposals for the introduction of Serious Shortage Protocols for medicines.

Answered on

11 January 2019

The Department engaged with a wide range of stakeholder representative bodies about the proposals and also conducted a written consultation. The Department received 47 responses to its written consultation including from industry, patients’, pharmacists’ and doctors’ representative bodies. The responses to the consultation were broadly supportive.

The Statutory Instrument is expected to be laid shortly and come into force before 29 March. Any serious shortage protocol would be developed with and signed off by clinicians. Only if clinicians deem it appropriate, an alternative quantity, strength, pharmaceutical form or medicine can be dispensed in line with the protocol.

A protocol is only one of the tools that can be used to manage shortages. The Department manages shortages in collaboration with manufacturers and suppliers, the National Health Service and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and will continue to do so. A protocol would only be introduced in case of a serious shortage, if it would help manage the supply situation and if clinicians think it is appropriate, taking account of the risks to and well-being of patients and after discussion with the manufacturer and/or marketing authorisation holder.

Any serious shortage would be time limited and the protocol itself would indicate the period during which it has effect.

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