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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.

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.

If members become aware of drug shortages not listed please contact the College via [email protected].

RCOphth Quality and Safety Group
UK Ophthalmic Pharmacy Group

Medication Brand Name Manufacturer Reason for shortage  Likely duration of stock shortage Potential alternatives*
Verteporfin 15 mg injection

(Added 21/01/2021)

Visudyne Cheplapharm Out of stock mid-2021 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):

Durbin PLC

Mawdsley’s Unlicensed

Prednisolone 0.5% eye/ear drops

(Added 3 March 2020)

RPH Manufacturing delay Until 13 March 2020
Acetylcholine Chloride Intra-ocular solution

(Added 12 February 2020)

Miochol-E  Bausch and Lomb   Limited supplies until mid-March 2020 – imports available


Visudyne (verteporfin) 15mg injection

(Updated 12 February 2020)

Bausch and Lomb   In stock Unlicensed imports are available if required. Lead times vary.
Trifluorothymidine 1% (Trifluridine, F3T)

(Updated 12 February 2020)

Stockport pharmaceuticals In stock Unlicensed supplies can be sourced from the USA (Viroptic) from specialist importers
Cyclopentolate 1% and 0.5% minims

(Updated 12 February 2020)

Bausch and Lomb Problem with API 0.5% and 1% out of stock until mid-March 2020

Mydrilate remains in stock

Use multi dose preserved cyclopentolate eye drops where appropriate. If this is not appropriate consider tropicamide 1% or phenylephrine 2.5% but be aware  that phenylephrine 2.5% is also in short supply.

Consider atropine 1% if there is no other safe alternative.

Cyclopentolate hydrochloride must be reserved for cycloplegic refraction.

Mydrane 0.2 mg/ml tropicamide + 3.1mg/ml phenylephrine + 10mg/ml lidocaine solution for injection

(Updated 12 February 2020)

Mydrane Thea Pharmaceuticals Out of stock until 20 February 2020 Supplies of Mydriasert remain robust. Reserve any remaining supplies of Mydrane for those patients in which an alternative is not available i.e. intraoperatively if IFIS is suspected.
Mitomycin C

(Updated 24 April 2020)

Kyowa Kirin Quality control release and manufacturing concerns MHRA Alert Ceased production Please see link for alternative suppliers
Minims Phenylephrine 2,5 % and 10%

(Updated 10 February 2020)

Bausch and Lomb Shortage of the active pharmaceutical ingredient Due back in stock w/c 17 February 2020 See MHRA Alert for alternatives

Etabonate 0.5% eye drops

(Updated 17 January 2020)

Lotemax Bausch and Lomb Unknown Back in stock 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.
Aciclovir Eye Ointment (3%w/w)

(Updated 19 December 2019)


Zovirax GlaxoSmithKline UK Ltd Discontinuation 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
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.
Betnesol Eye Ointment 0.1% w/w x 3g
(Updated 4 November 2019)
N/A RPH Pharmac-euticals AB (distributed through Focus Pharmac-
Discontinuation 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.


RPH Pharmaceuticals NOT will be launching a generic. Martindale Pharma can support the market in the meantime.


Betnesol (betamethasone 0.1%) eye/ear/nose drops

(Updated 4 November 2019)

N/A RPH Pharmac-euticals AB (distributed through Focus Pharmac-
Out of stock Resupply date late 2019. Martindale Pharma can support the full market during this time.
Liquid paraffin with white soft paraffin wool alcohols(Updated 12 August 2019)
Lacri-lube eye ointment Allergan Manufacturing issues at sole global manufacturing site Out of stock due to an ongoing manufacturing issue. Allergan are unable to provide a re-supply date at this stage Xailin Night eye ointment (contains white soft paraffin, white mineral oil and lanolin alcohols)

HYLO NIGHT (formerly VitA-POS)

(contains retinol palmitate (vitamin A), liquid paraffin, light liquid paraffin, wool fat and white soft vaseline)

Timolol 0.25% and 0.5% unit dose (Updated 20 November 2018) Timoptol Santen Product is being discontinued on 31 March 2018 N/A Numerous preservative free alternatives available including timolol 1mg/g gel and levobunolol 5mg/mL unit does eye drops

Preservative free multi-dose 2.5mg/ml and 5mg/ml timolol eye drops are available as potential alternatives

Nedocromil 2% eye drops
(Added 6 June 2018)
Rapitil Sanofi This product has now been discontinued N/A Numerous mast cell stabilisers remain available including sodium cromoglicate and lodoxamide

*It is recognised that there will be regional variation in appropriate alternatives in accordance with local formularies