Supply of Permethrin 5% w/w cream

Pharmacy press

Following the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) issuing a medicine supply notification for Permethrin 5% w/w cream, we were asked to comment on the availability of alternative treatments, and how much of an issue might this shortage cause for pharmacists.

Our Drug Tariff and Reimbursement Manager, Suraj Shah, said:

“Permethrin 5% w/w cream has been subject to supply disruption for several months, exacerbated by several localised scabies outbreaks. Whilst DHSC issuing a medicine supply notification is a positive step, it comes much later than we would have hoped. Unfortunately, we expect that fulfilling prescriptions will remain a challenge as alternative products may struggle to meet demand or require prescribers to amend prescriptions, and local discussions may be required to ensure patients can access treatment in a timely manner.

Unfortunately, this is just one in a long line of medicine supply issues for which pharmacy teams are having to spend additional time sourcing medicines, contacting prescribers to issue replacement prescription for other available alternatives, and explaining reasons for delays in supply to concerned patients and carers. We have been pressing DHSC to think broadly about what measures could help to manage the mounting medicine supply problems and consider the introduction of greater flexibilities, such as allowing pharmacists more professional discretion to give alternative formulations such as unlicensed preparations. We have also been clear that more communications are needed to reassure patients and to protect pharmacy staff from the abuse that they are reporting.”