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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:

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

RCOphth Quality and Safety Group
Flats life Boutique SONOMA style promotion UK Ophthalmic Pharmacy Group

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Medication Brand Name Manufacturer Reason for shortage  Likely duration of stock shortage Potential alternatives*
Betnesol Eye Ointment 0.1% w/w x 3g
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August 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 RPH Pharmaceuticals will be launching a generic Betamethasone Eye Ointment 0.1% w/w x 3g and are currently expecting stock early September
Brinzolamide 10mg/ml eye drops
(Updated 29 August 2018)
Azopt Novartis promotion SONOMA Flats life style Boutique PI shortage and delay at plant Intermittent shortages over the next few months Numerous generic products remain available
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.

Flats style promotion SONOMA Boutique life Importers have confirmed that they can source unlicensed acetazolamide MR from abroad

Liquid paraffin with white soft paraffin wool alcohols(Updated 29
August 2018)
Flats Boutique promotion style life SONOMA Lacri-lube eye ointment Allergan Manufacturing issues at sole global manufacturing site There will be no further supplies in 2018 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
Azelastine 0.05% eye drops
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(Added 3 August 2018)
Optilast Mylan Manufacturing delay September 2018 Other anti-allergic eye drops including Sodium cromoglicate, lodoxamide and oloptadine remain available
Minims Pilocarpine 2%
(Added 29 August 2018)
N/A Bausch &
N/A Stock will be released into the market end of August 2018 N/A
Prednisolone and Phenylephrine 2.5%
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(Added 29 August 2018)
N/A Bausch &
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N/A Transient back orders but there is still stock in wholesale which should cover the market for a few weeks N/A

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

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Materials Fabric details not available.