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Pharmacists granted power to supply different haloperidol formulation

The government has granted pharmacists the ability to supply an alternative form of haloperidol without contacting the patient’s GP, in an effort to cope with shortages.

This is the second product subject to a “serious shortage protocol” (SSP), which grants pharmacists the powers to dispense a suitable alternative to a medicine suffering a shortage, without needing to contact a GP to change the prescription.

The legal framework for a protocol was put in place in February, but it required a government directive for pharmacists to act on it.

The SSPs previously granted for fluoxetine have now all expired.

In response to the severe shortages affecting the haloperidol 500 microgram capsules – supplied under the brand name Serenace – pharmacists can now supply haloperidol 500 microgram tablets as a suitable alternative.

The SSP expires on March 23, but can be revoked or amended at any point before then, the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) said.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) issued the SSP – effective from today (December 23) – after the disruption to the supply of haloperidol 500 microgram capsules “reached a level that requires intervention”, according to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.

The SSP outlines that “the decision to supply any medicine under this protocol rests with the individual registered pharmacist” and that pharmacists must use “their professional judgement” in the implementation of the SSP.

Pharmacists can decline to supply the tablet alternative if they do not consider the patient to meet the criteria of the SSP. This includes if the patient is under the age of 18, has a known hypersensitivity or previous severe adverse reaction to haloperidol tablets, or presents a prescription for another medicine than haloperidol 500 microgram capsules.

Read the protocol in full and the accompanying operational guidance on the NHS Business Services Authority's website.

What do you make of the DH's decision to issue an SSP for haloperidol?

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