DH activates shortage protocol for thyroid drug

The Government has issued a serious shortage protocol for levothyroxine 12.5mcg tablets in response to “significant ongoing disruption” to supply, the PSNC has said. 

The SSP, which is introduced today with immediate effect, allows pharmacists to substitute a 28-size pack of 25mcg tablets, one to be taken on alternate days, against a prescription for 56 once-daily 12.5mcg tablets. 

This alternate daily dosing regime is off-label, according to the NHS, though it added that because the drug has a long half-life “it is not uncommon for patients to have varying doses on different days”. 

This has been authorised by health secretary Matt Hancock to help manage supply for the product and to try to ensure that fewer patients have to return to their GP, the PSNC said. 

Pharmacists “must exercise their professional judgement to ensure the alternative product is suitable for the patient,” it added.  

Contractors will be reimbursed the drug tariff price for the 25mcg tablets rather than the originally prescribed medicine, and will receive a £5.35 SSP fee on top of the £1.27 single activity fee.

The SSP may be amended or revoked at any time but currently expires on Friday 5th March 2021.

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