Penicillin provision reinforced amidst increased strep A prevalence

The Government has taken action to ensure people have access to penicillin as strep A continues to make demand high.

Serious shortage protocols (SSPs) have been issued across the UK for three penicillin medicines in a bid to curb local supply issues, allowing pharmacists to maintain provision and keep the public stocked up as we continue into the winter months.

SSPs are issued to manage temporary or potential medicine supply shortages, which cut out the need for patients to return to their prescriber with laws dictating that pharmacists can only supply patients with what is on a patient’s prescription – even if it is not available.

The move became necessary after pharmacists started to experience penicillin shortages amidst the increased prominence of strep A and scarlet fever.

The SSPs have been issues for three types of penicillin. They are:

  • phenoxymethylpenicillin 250mg/5ml oral solution sugar free
  • phenoxymethylpenicillin 250mg/5ml oral solution
  • phenoxymethylpenicillin 125mg/5ml oral solution sugar free

Health Minister, Will Quince, said: “The increased demand for the antibiotics prescribed to treat strep A has meant some pharmacists have been unable to supply the medicine shown on the prescription.

“These SSPs will allow pharmacists to supply an alternative form of penicillin, which will make things easier for them, patients, and GPs.

“We are taking decisive action to address these temporary issues and improve access to these medicines by continuing to work with manufacturers and wholesalers to speed up deliveries, bring forward stock they have to help ensure it gets to where it’s needed, and boost supply to meet demand as quickly as possible.”

UK Health Security Agency data indicates that there is an out-of-season increase in strep A and scarlet fever but there is no evidence implying there is a new strain. The Government say the rise is probably due to large amounts of “circulating bacteria and increased social mixing.”

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