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Drugs Shortages

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the UK Ophthalmic Pharmacy Group are aware of shortages of essential eye drops and drugs, often at short notice.

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, but shortages have occurred for various reasons eg shortages of raw materials/plant failure/imbalance between supply and demand.

Manufacturers are subject to obligations under Department of Health/industry joint guidance:


The guidance recommends companies inform the Department of Health as soon as possible about impending shortages that are likely to impact on patient care and also to consider whether/how best to communicate about a supply problem to the NHS.

The Department of Health has also published guidance on notification of product discontinuation, advising companies to provide advance warning so that the potential impact on patient care may be planned for and appropriately addressed: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notification-of-product-discontinuations-pharmaceuticals

RCOphth and UKOPG intend to provide regular bulletins updating our members about known current and potential product shortages/discontinuation. If members become aware of drug shortages not listed please contact the College via jack.bellamy@rcophth.ac.uk

RCOphth Quality and Safety Group
UK Ophthalmic Pharmacy Group

Medication Brand Name Manufacturer Reason for shortage  Likely duration of stock shortage Potential alternatives*
Latanoprost 50mcg/mL eye drops
(Updated 6 June 2018)
Numerous Numerous Shortage of the raw material End of June 2018 There are numerous manufacturers of latanoprost eye drops. Some, but not all, are reporting that supplies will be with wholesalers this week. It is possible that supply might not always meet demand over the next month. Other prostaglandin analogues remain unaffected (Bimatoprost, Tafluprost, Travoprost), as does preservative free latanoprost (Monopost).
Betamethasone 0.1% eye ointment (Updated 6 June 2018) Betnesol Recipharm The manufacturer is discontinuing the branded version and plan to replace it with a generic version Stocks of the generic ointment are expected end of June 2018 Betamethasone 01% eye drops remain unaffected
Acetazolamide 250mg MR tablets (Updated 16 March 2018) Diamox SR

Eytazox MR

Concordia International


No reason given

Problems with manufacturing process/formulation

September 2018

August 2018

Immediate release acetazolamide remains unaffected.

Importers have confirmed that they can source unlicensed acetazolamide MR from abroad

Liquid paraffin with white soft paraffin wool alcohols (Added 20
February 2018)
Lacri-lube eye ointment Allergan Manufacturing issues at sole global manufacturing site The manufacturer can provide no details Xailin Night eye ointment (contains white soft paraffin, white mineral oil and lanolin alcohols)


Timolol 0.25% and 0.5% unit dose (Added 16 March 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
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