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Antibiotics shortage in Scotland will be resolved next week


Antibiotics shortage in Scotland will be resolved next week

By Neil Trainis

Community Pharmacy Scotland chief executive Harry McQuillan has told pharmacists that he expects the shortage of penicillin and amoxicillin in the country to be resolved next week.

In a video message posted on the CPS website, McQuillan tried to reassure them by insisting “there is actually very good supply in the UK of the penicillins” but admitted “a lot of it is sitting at pre-wholesale at the minute” and described the problem as “a logistics thing".

“It’s about getting it back into the network and getting it out into the community pharmacies for you to issue to patients,” he said.

“There is no major shortage as such although you may be experiencing very short-term blips and spikes in demand. To get over that spike in demand, there has been guidance issued about what alternatives there are to supply.”

He also said guidance is available for pharmacists on oral doses “that can be ground down and made into solution or suspension" but conceded that option "is not for everyone but will be an alternative we can use on some occasions".

“But to reassure you, we expect this to be a short-term issue," he said. "It’s been great that we’ve managed to pick this up because the teams have been using our shortage reporter so [our] team were able to draw me a report and I can act and get in touch with government colleagues about what’s actually happening.

“So, we expect a blip for it to come into the network and it’s probably going to be next week before it resolves.”

McQuillan revealed CPS has been “getting feedback, maybe even rumours” about a patient group direction for community pharmacies to issue antibiotics for strep A but insisted that was “not on the cards.”

“No-one has spoken to CPS about that. I’ve enquires with my government policy colleagues and there’s no intention to do that. If the situation changes, it might come back but as we speak, there’s no intention to issue a PGD about that," he said.

He urged pharmacists to look out for “guidance on alternatives on what other things can be prescribed” and promised CPS will return with more information if the situation has not improved by next week. 

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