New SSP issued for Salazopyrin® 500mg tablets

In response to a significant ongoing disruption to the supply of Salazopyrin tablets, a Serious Shortage Protocols (SSP) have been issued by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Effective today, 16 March 2022SSP018 provides that for every Salazopyrin® 500mg tablet originally prescribed, one Sulfasalazine 500mg tablet must be supplied. SSP018, 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 SSP018:
Salazopyrin® 500mg tablets Sulfasalazine 500mg tablet

The SSP may be amended or revoked at any time but currently expires on 25 March 2022 – PSNC will update contractors on any changes.

Key points relating to SSP018

  • This protocol is different from SSP014: Salazopyrin® EN-Tabs 500mg.
  • This protocol does not allow for the quantity supplied to be less than the number of days prescribed on original prescription.
  • Ensure the patient/carer consents to receiving the medicine supplied under this SSP.
  • Switching the preparation (including different manufacturer) of the drug requires caution in certain patients who are considered at risk of deterioration due to their belief that the exact preparation (including different manufacturer) of the drug is critical to their response. Patients considered to be at risk of this need to be referred back to their prescriber promptly for further advice.
  • Ensure that patients considered unsuitable for inclusion (see ‘Criteria for exclusion‘) 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
  • 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 SSP018 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 SSP018: Salazopyrin® 500mg tablets.


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 Sulfasalazine 500mg tablets. 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 £1.29)
  • 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

Live SSPs

PSNC’s Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) Endorsing Factsheet

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

Serious Shortage Protocols Operational Guidance

Serious Shortage Protocols Questions & Answers

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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