The UK Government has issued five new serious shortage protocols this morning (December 17) as stock levels for penicillin continue to dwindle in the face of continued Strep A cases. The news comes as many pharmacists have admitted to running very close to running out of the antibiotic.
Serious Shortage Protocols (SSP) are a potential way to help pharmacies manage any serious shortages of medicines that may occur, without needing to refer patients back to prescribers. The demand for penicillin after the outbreak of Strep A across the country has risen five-fold, a senior health official told the Financial TImes.
Under these measures, pharmacists will be allowed to supply different types of penicillin — such as a pill — if they have run out of any of the three liquid medicines without returning to the doctor for a new prescription.
Health minister Will Quince said the government was taking “decisive action to address these temporary issues” but this comes in contrast to pharmacists complaining of difficulties in securing supplies of the common antibiotics, including penicillin and amoxicillin, and paying unusually high prices, meaning they were often dispensing the drugs at a loss.
The serious shortage protocol this morning comes as a 19th child died on Friday from complications from Strep A, as the health service comes under continued strain through Nurse strikes and a “twindemic” - many suffering from symptoms of either seasonal flu or Covid-19 during these exceptionally cold periods.