Extension to Paracetamol 120mg suppositories (SSP050)

Update 05/05/23 – The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has provided an update on the Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) for Paracetamol 120mg suppository (SSP050) was due to expire 5 May 2023 but have been further extended to Friday 12 May 2023.

In response to a significant ongoing disruption to the supply of Paracetamol 120mg suppositories, a Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP) has been issued by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Effective today, 16 February 2023, SSP050 provides that for every Paracetamol 120mg suppository originally prescribed, one Paracetamol 125mg  suppository must be supplied. SSP050, authorised by the Secretary of State, has been developed by clinicians and provides pharmacists with procedures to follow in providing a suitable alternative product to help reduce the number of patients having to return to their prescriber for a replacement prescription.

For prescriptions (NHS or private) requesting: Supply permitted under SSP050:
Paracetamol 120mg suppository
Paracetamol 125mg suppository

The SSP may be amended or revoked at any time but currently expires on 5 May 2023 – PSNC will update contractors on any changes.

Key points relating to SSP050

  • Ensure that patients considered unsuitable for inclusion are promptly referred to their prescriber for further advice.
  • The supervising pharmacist should ensure that the patient’s prescriber is notified when supplying a patient in accordance with this SSP
  • The supervising pharmacist should refer back to the prescriber if their professional judgement determines that the patient is not suitable to receive the marginally stronger medicine in accordance with this SSP.
  • For endorsing requirements please refer to NHSBSA’s supporting guidance.

Pharmacists must exercise their professional judgement to ensure the alternative products are suitable for the patient.

Contractors will receive an email to their shared NHSmail account informing them of this SSP and pharmacy teams are advised to read the documentation for SSP050 in full and to implement the protocol with immediate effect. Pharmacists are required to read and comply with the requirements outlined within the individual SSP as published on the NHSBSA website for SSP050.


Reimbursement is for the medicine supplied in accordance with the SSP and not the originally prescribed medicine i.e. in this instance contractors will be reimbursed the Drug Tariff Part VIIIA reimbursement price for Paracetamol 125mg suppositories. The reimbursement price will account for VAT payment. Supply in accordance with the SSP will result in the following fees being paid to the contractor:

  • One Single Activity fee (currently £1.27)
  • One SSP fee (£5.35)

Support in implementing the SSPs

The following resources have been developed to support pharmacy teams in using these protocols.

Current versions of SSPs

Serious Shortage Protocols Operational Guidance

Serious Shortage Protocols Questions & Answers

PSNC’s Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) Endorsing Factsheet

PSNC Briefing 023/19: Serious Shortage Protocols – A guide for community pharmacy teams

Background information on SSPs

Further information on what SSPs are and when they may be used is available via the links below.

Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) on-demand webinar

Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) webpage

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