The manufacturer has registered an “unprecedented demand” for its syringes pre-filled with pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic, it told C+D yesterday (October 28).
The “unexpected surge in demand” means “the UK is currently facing a shortage and [we] expect doses to be available again in January 2021,” it added.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DH), Public Health England (PHE), NHS England and NHS Improvement, MSD and wholesaler AAH have agreed to introduce maximum ordering quotas “to ensure equitable and appropriate distribution during this period”, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) reported earlier this week (October 26).
However, there is a procedure to allow contractors to exceed these ordering limits “to fulfil orders for individuals in high risk clinical groups as outlined by PHE’s guidance”, PSNC added.
A spokesperson for MSD told C+D that the company “is working with national health authorities to ensure that those individuals at highest risk of pneumococcal disease, such as the elderly and adults with certain risk conditions, are prioritised accordingly”.
Pharmacies can purchase the product exclusively from wholesaler AAH.
A DH spokesperson told C+D yesterday that the department is doing “everything we can to help speed up future deliveries”.
“We are working closely with suppliers and the healthcare system to ensure that patients who need the vaccine most can get it”, they added.