A photo of a pile of pills and a thermometer.

Drugs Shortages

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.

Contact us

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.

(Added 21/01/2021) (Updated 06/06/2024)

Brand Name: Visudyne          Manufacturer: Cheplapharm

Supply has returned to normal levels within the UK. All restrictions on ordering Visudyne stock have been removed and all NHS organisations may now order stock. DHSC Medicine Supply Team will continue to monitor the supply situation.

(Added 14/12/23)
Medications in shortage:
Acetylcholine chloride (Miphtel) 20mg powder
Manufactruer:ParaPharm Development Limited
Likely duration of shortage: until April 2024

Potential Alternatives: The following specialist importers have confirmed they can source unlicensed acetylcholine chloride (Miochol E) 20mg powder and solvent for solution for intraocular irrigation (please note there may be other companies that can also source supplies):

  • Orifarm
  • Smartway Pharma

(Added 08/11/23) (Updated 25/1/24)

Brand Name: Diamox SR         Manufacturer: Mercury Pharma Group Ltd
Reason for shortage: Out of stock

Likely duration of shortage: until 26th Feb 2024

Potential Alternatives

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):

  • Smartway

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):

  • Eaststone Specials
  • IPS Pharma
  • Nova Labs
  • PCCA Ltd
  • Quantum Pharmaceutical
  • Rokshaw Ltd

Brand Name:N/A          Manufacturer: Kyowa Kirin
Reason for shortage: Quality control release and manufacturing concerns MHRA Alert

Likely duration of stock shortage: Ceased production

Potential alternatives*: Please see link for alternative suppliers

(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

Potential alternatives*: Please refer to the UKMI memo on the discontinuation of Zovirax Eye Ointment for further information on alternative treatment options. A new licensed product may now be available.

(Updated 4 November 2019)

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.