New SSP issued for Lipitor® 20mg chewable tablets

In response to a significant ongoing disruption to the supply of Lipitor® 20mg chewable tablets , a Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP) has been issued by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Effective today, 23 November 2022, SSP039 provides that for every Lipitor® 20mg chewable tablet originally prescribed, either one Atorvastatin 20mg tablet or the equivalent dose of Atorvastatin 20mg/5ml oral suspension sugar free must be supplied. SSP039, authorised by the Secretary of State, has been developed by clinicians and provides pharmacists with procedures to follow in providing either of these suitable alternative products 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 SSP039:
Lipitor® 20mg chewable tablets Atorvastatin 20mg tablets
Atorvastatin 20mg/5ml oral suspension sugar free

The SSP may be amended or revoked at any time but currently expires on 23 December 2022 – PSNC will update contractors on any changes.

Key points relating to SSP039

  • 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 refer back to the prescriber if, in their professional judgement, a non-chewable atorvastatin tablet would not be appropriate for the patient.
  • For endorsing requirements please refer to NHSBSA’s supporting guidance for SSP039.

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 SSP039 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 SSP039: Lipitor® 20mg chewable tablets.

Reimbursement and remuneration

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 Atorvastatin 10mg or Atorvastatin 20mg/5ml oral suspension sugar free or 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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