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DH extends all eight SSPs for penicillin as supply issues persist

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has extended the serious shortage protocols (SSPs) for penicillin, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has announced.

The expiry dates for all eight Phenoxymethylpenicillin V (Pen V) SSPs - which were due to expire yesterday (January 31) - have now been extended until February 28, PSNC said.

And it yesterday announced that azithromycin and clarithromycin had been removed as substitutes in five of the protocols.

Read more: ‘More to do’: DH to work closely with wholesalers to strengthen drug supply

Only the following oral antibiotics can now be supplied under the SSPs, in “priority order”, PSNC said:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Flucloxacillin
  • Cefalexin
  • Co-amoxiclav

But if the prescription is for longer than 10 days, erythromycin is the “preferred substitution”, PSNC said.

The government issued a first set of SSPs for penicillin on December 15, but it published a further five protocols relating to penicillin supply the following evening.

Higher than normal cases of strep A and scarlet fever had led to increased demand for penicillin from patients.

Read more: Strep A: Watchdog investigating ‘excessive’ antibiotics prices

But wholesalers this month told C+D that the antibiotic shortages hitting pharmacies were starting to improve following “incredible” demand.

Meanwhile, the DH last week extended three SSPs for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products, while two expired.


All current oral antibiotic SSPs


Pharmacists can provide alternative antibiotics or formulations if they cannot fulfil the patient’s specific prescription under the following SSPs:

  • SSP040 Phenoxymethylpenicillin 125mg/5ml oral solution sugar free (issued 15/12/2022)
  • SSP041 Phenoxymethylpenicillin 250mg/5ml oral solution sugar free (issued 15/12/2022)
  • SSP042 Phenoxymethylpenicillin 250mg/5ml oral solution (issued 15/12/2022)
  • SSP043 Phenoxymethylpenicillin 125mg/5ml oral solution (issued 16/12/2022)
  • SSP044 Phenoxymethylpenicillin 125mg/5ml oral solution sugar free (issued 16/12/2022)
  • SSP045 Phenoxymethylpenicillin 250mg/5ml oral solution (issued 16/12/2022)
  • SSP046 Phenoxymethylpenicillin 250mg/5ml oral solution sugar free (issued 16/12/2022)
  • SSP047 Phenoxymethylpenicillin 250mg tablets (issued 16/12/2022)

These are all now due to expire on February 28 2023.

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