Nine Part VIIIB specials reclassified as special containers from November 2022

Following representations from PSNC, the Department of Health of Social Care (DHSC) has re-determined the special container status of the following nine unlicensed medicines listed in Part VIIIB of the Drug Tariff from 1 November 2022:

  • Ciprofloxacin 0.3% ear drops (10ml)
  • Clonazepam 2.5mg/ml drops (10ml)
  • Coal tar 10% ointment (100g)
  • Coal tar 5% ointment (100g)
  • Coal tar solution 5% in Betamethasone valerate 0.025% ointment (100g)
  • Coal tar solution 6% / Salicylic acid 2% in ointment (100g)
  • Lidocaine 2% gel (15ml)
  • Nifedipine 20mg/ml oral drops (30ml)
  • Triamcinolone 0.1% oromucosal paste (5g)

These products have been re-classified as special containers as they meet the relevant special container criteria as set out in Part II Clause 10B of the Tariff. The special container pack size for these specials corresponds to the minimum volume listed against the unlicensed medicine in Part VIIIB of the Drug Tariff. The special container pack size (minimum volume) is displayed in brackets next to product names above. Products classed as special containers in Part VIIIB  of the Drug Tariff do not have a price per unit listed above the minimum quantity i.e. their reimbursement is based on the price per minimum volume in line with special container rules.

Since August 2019, PSNC’s Dispensing & Supply team has reviewed over 4,000 products against Drug Tariff special container criteria. The three main criteria under which PSNC has focused its attention are drugs that are considered hygroscopic, viscous external preparations and those packaged into containers from which it is not practical to dispense the exact quantity. Of those checked, PSNC has identified and submitted applications for 894 products that appear to meet one or more of the special container criteria but are not annotated as such in the Drug Tariff and/or the dm+d.

Where a product meets the special container criteria as set out in the Drug Tariff, a special container indicator for the relevant pack size (complete pack or sub-pack) is applied to the respective product entries in the dm+d and in the Drug Tariff, where listed.

For a list of all the monthly changes to the special container status of products please see the following page Notice of changes to special container status of products.


If you identify any particular product(s) which are not currently classed as special containers but you believe satisfy the criteria (as set out in Part II CLAUSE 10 B of the Drug Tariff), please notify PSNC’s Dispensing and Supply Team (0203 1220 810 or comms.team@cpe.org.uk) who will investigate and assess if it meets the relevant criteria. Where appropriate, PSNC will make application to the NHSBSA and DHSC seeking for the special container status of the product(s) to be re-determined.

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