The ongoing diamorphine shortage could last into 2019, according to the manufacturer who produces lower-dose injections for supply in the UK.
Last month, GPs were warned that one of the two suppliers – Accord UK – had been experiencing ‘issues at their manufacturing site’ leading to a shortage of the 5mg and 10mg dosages.
But the pharmaceutical company has now confirmed that it does not expect an ‘increased supply’ until September, and will not be ‘back at full capacity’ until early 2019.
The NHS Specialist Pharmacy Service issued an alert to GPs when the shortage was announced, and told them to ‘decide which product is most appropriate for each individual patient’ when switching patients currently taking diamorphine to an alternative opioid analgesic.
It said: ‘Care is needed when switching from one opioid analgesic to another to ensure equipotent dosage… Patients should be carefully monitored after any drug switch and dose titration may be required.’
But a spokesperson for Accord UK has now told Pulse that the shortage will not end anytime soon.
They said: ‘Accord Healthcare are working closely with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Department of Health and our manufacturer to rectify the current situation. We are aiming to have an increased supply from September 2018 and be back at full capacity early in 2019.
‘As one of the UK’s largest suppliers of generic medicines, we take our responsibility very seriously and put quality at the core of our operations. We supply one in six of the UK’s generic medicines and on average every second we supply 210 doses to patients across the UK and we are committed to providing effective, affordable healthcare that improve patients’ lives.’
Earlier this year GPs were told that they should keep a record of patients with high use of opioids, in order to improve patient safety for high-risk demographics, and highlight prescribing patterns.