The Royal College of Ophthalmologists works with the UK Ophthalmic Pharmacy Group to update our members on drug shortages. This is not intended as a guide to patients, who should always speak to their consultant, pharmacist or other medical professional about finding alternative medication. The College is unable to offer advice to patients on where to source specific drugs or possible alternatives.
In response to concerns raised by the College, the Department of Health Medicine Supply Team has confirmed that manufacturers have a legal duty to ensure continuity of supply of medicines to UK patients.
Joint industry and Department of Health guidance recommends companies inform the Department of Health as soon as possible about impending shortages which are likely to have an impact on patient care. When prior notification of product discontinuation or shortage is provided potential impact can be planned for and addressed by the Department of Health.
If members become aware of drug shortages not listed please contact Jonathan Baker, Quality Improvement Manager: [email protected].
Current drugs shortages
Shortages can occur for various reasons including shortages of raw materials/plant failure/imbalance between supply and demand. Below you’ll find an regularly updated list of drug shortages that the College and UKOPG are aware of.
Medications in shortage:
Viscotears 2mg/g liquid gel (Bausch & Lomb UK Ltd)
Artelac Nighttime 0.2% eye gel
GelTears 0.2% gel
Manufactruer: Bausch & Lomb UK Ltd
Likely duration of shortage: until 12th January 2024
Potential Alternatives: A list of carbomers can be found at the following link: https://bnf.nice.org.uk/drugs/carbomers/medicinal-forms/
Brand Name: Diamox SR Manufacturer: Mercury Pharma Group Ltd Reason for shortage: Out of stock
Likely duration of shortage: until 29th Dec 2023
Acetazolamide immediate release 250mg tablets remain available and can support an uplift in demand where appropriate.
The following specialist importer(s) have currently confirmed availability of unlicensed acetazolamide SR 250mg capsules (please note, there may be other companies that can also source supplies):
The following companies have indicated they can supply specials of acetazolamide oral suspension in various strengths (please note, there may be other companies that can manufacture supplies):
(Added 21/01/2021) (Updated 28/9/2023)
Brand Name: Visudyne Manufacturer: Cheplapharm Reason for shortage: Out of stock
Likely duration of stock shortage: Dec 2023- current supplies are being limited to ophthalmic oncology centres and a limited amount of stock is available for chronic central serous chorioretinopathy (CSR) patients. Please see the NHS National Patient Safety alert and our supporting guidance.
Potential alternatives*: US Visudyne (considered unlicensed in the UK) is being supplied by their distributor, Neon Healthcare, in restricted quantities until this time. Please contact Neon Healthcare with any queries: 01920 444 345 or [email protected]
The following specialist importers have also confirmed they can source unlicensed imports of verteporfin 15mg injection, lead times vary (please note, there may be other companies that can also source supplies):
Brand Name: Minims® Proxymetacaine 0.5% eye drops 0.5ml unit dose Manufacturer: Bauch and Lomb
Reason for Shortage: Manufacturing issue
Likely Duration of Shortage: until October 2023
Unlicenced supplies of proxymetacaine 0.5% eye drops 10ml (contains preservative: benzalkonium chloride) may be sourced, lead times vary.
Minims® Tetracaine Hydrochloride 0.5% w/v and 1% w/v eye drop solution remain available but can only cover normal demand.
Brand Name: Lotemax Manufacturer: Bausch and Lomb Reason for shortage: Unknown
Likely duration of stock shortage: Unknown
Potential alternatives*: No direct alternative. Consider an alternative corticosteroid with a similar potency such as FML (fluorometholone) or prednisolone 0.5% eye drops. Monitor closely for response and consider additional IOP monitoring if appropriate.
(Updated 19 December 2019)
Brand Name: Zovirax Manufacturer: GlaxoSmithKline UK Ltd Reason for shortage: Discontinuation
Likely duration of stock shortage: GSK will cease the manufacture and supply of Zovirax Eye Ointment globally during 2018 due to repeated challenges in guaranteeing a sustainable product supply. Stock of Zovirax Eye Ointment is anticipated to continue to be available in the UK until the end of March 2019. See full notification DHCP Zovirax Eye Ointment Discontinuation Letter 13.12.18
Brand Name: N/A Manufacturer: RPH Pharmac-euticals AB (distributed through Focus Pharmaceuticals) Reason for shortage: Discontinuation
Likely duration of stock shortage: RPH Pharmaceuticals AB, have advised that following the discontinuation of Betnesol Eye Ointment 0.1% w/w x 3g they have experienced manufacturing problems which have resulted in the nonviability of launching a generic Betamethasone Eye Ointment 0.1% w/w x 3g.
Potential alternatives*: RPH Pharmaceuticals will NOT be launching a generic. Martindale Pharma can support the market in the meantime.