Serious shortage protocols have been issued across the UK for three penicillin medicines. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has issued the protocol as the demand for penicillin has risen to treat strep A and scarlet fever.
Latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows that as of 11 December, there have been 7,750 notifications of scarlet fever.
This is a 5,212 increase compared to the last comparably high season in 2017 to 2018.
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The shortage protocol will allow pharmacists to legally supply a specified alternative to save time for GPs and inconvenience for patients.
Health minister Will Quince said: ‘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.'
However, Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMP) told CNBC that these were desperate times.
'Quite literally there isn’t (enough supply), because it’s not finding its way to pharmacies,' Dr Hannbeck said.
She added: 'And where there are patchy supplies, they are flying off the shelves.'
Earlier this month Prime Minister Rishi Sunak denied there was a shortage of strep A antibiotics, despite claims by pharmacists.