Last updated: February 07, 2020

If there is a genuine shortage of a medicine, and you can't get hold of a suitable alternative presentation or brand, you may need to switch to a completely different medicine. In this situation, you should obviously start by identifying the indication and the exact regimen (dose, frequency, dosage form).

You then need to develop a plan to share with your patient and the rest of the team caring for them.  There may already be national guidance on what to do via the SPS website – please check this first – or your local community may have a policy describing what to do (e.g. your CCG website). Sometimes it won't be appropriate for you to get involved because the medicine is too specialist (e.g. an HIV medicine), so the patient must be referred to their original prescribing team for advice.

Otherwise, here are some questions you could think about when managing an individual patient:

We've provided some more detail about these questions and why you should ask them on the next page.

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