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Atorvastatin: DH ‘closely monitoring’ situation amid 'supply constraints'

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) is “closely monitoring” supply issues around atorvastatin, it has said, following “pricing and availability” concerns raised by England’s community pharmacy negotiator.

The government is “aware of supply constraints affecting atorvastatin 20mg tablets”, although deliveries of the drug are continuing to be made, a DH spokesperson told C+D this morning (July 10).

But the DH is “closely monitoring the situation” and is “working with” wholesalers and manufacturers to “understand what steps can be taken” to improve matters, they said. Alternative statins are still available, they pointed out.

It comes after Community Pharmacy England (CPE) last week (July 5) revealed that “a number of” contractors had contacted it about “pricing and availability” concerns around atorvastatin.

Read more: Atorvastatin most-dispensed drug in community for second year running

CPE “warned” the DH last week about the “serious impact” this was having on pharmacies, it told contractors in an email bulletin.

It thanked contractors who had reported the “increased prices” they had purchased the cholesterol-lowering drug at.

“We will continue to use these reports to highlight just how much of an impact this is having on pharmacies who are desperately trying to get hold of limited stock and having to pay inflated prices for it without any certainty of their final reimbursement prices,” it said.

Meanwhile, Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies (AIMp) chief executive Leyla Hannbeck last week (July 4) took to Twitter to warn that prices for atorvastatin had “been rising, leaving community pharmacies who [are] already struggling financially out of pocket”.

Read more: Prescription costs up 8% to over £10 billion in England, NHSBSA reveals

Pharmacist Chris Armstrong tweeted last week (July 3) that price rises could lead to “a loss of thousands of pounds to our pharmacy this month”.

And contractor Rifat Asghar-Hussain pleaded with CPE to “do something about this”.

“I can’t afford to pay double/triple for stock and I’m shocked that it hasn’t reached concession,” she said.

Atorvastatin was the single most dispensed drug in England in 2022/23 , with 58.7m items dispensed in the year, according to figures released last month by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA).

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