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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 beth.barnes@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*
Nevanac e/d x3ml 

Duotrav e/d x 2.5ml

(Added 5 December 2018)

N/A Allergan Unknown stock expected early December 2018
Apraclonodine 0.5%
(Added 10 October 2018)


Novartis Interruption of supply Estimated early November 2018 The 1% unit dose remains unaffected
Iopodine ED Solution 5mg/ml 5ml (1×1)
(Added 3 October 2018)
N/A Novartis Manufacturing issue Out of stock for the remainder of 2018
Betnesol Eye Ointment 0.1% w/w x 3g
(Updated 10 October 2018)
N/A RPH Pharmac-euticals AB (distributed through Focus Pharmac-
Discontinuation The product is being phased out and discontinued as of the end of March 2018 RPH Pharmaceuticals will be launching a generic Betamethasone Eye Ointment 0.1% w/w x 3g and are currently expecting stock early 2019
Brinzolamide 10mg/ml eye drops
(Updated 5 December 2018)
Azopt Novartis PI shortage and delay at plant Intermittent shortages over the next few months Numerous generic products remain available
Acetazolamide 250mg MR tablets (Updated 10 October 2018) Diamox SR

Eytazox MR

Concordia International



Back in stock

November/December 2018

Back in stock

Immediate release acetazolamide remains unaffected.


Liquid paraffin with white soft paraffin wool alcohols(Updated 3 October 2018)
Lacri-lube eye ointment Allergan Manufacturing issues at sole global manufacturing site Out of stock for the remainder of 2018 due to manufacturing issue Xailin Night eye ointment (contains white soft paraffin, white mineral oil and lanolin alcohols)


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
Azelastine 0.05% eye drops
(Updated 3 October 2018 2018)
Optilast Mylan N/A Back in stock Other anti-allergic eye drops including Sodium cromoglicate, lodoxamide and oloptadine remain available
Minims Pilocarpine 2%
(Updated 3 October 2018)
N/A Bausch &
N/A Back in stock N/A
Prednisolone and Phenylephrine 2.5%

(Updated 5 December 2018)

N/A Bausch &
N/A Currently on back order due to an API issue. Stock expected to be delivered early December but may not clear all back orders. N/A

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