SSPs reactivated for clarithromycin amid surging whooping cough cases

As whooping cough cases rise sharply across the UK, the NHS has reactivated the serious shortage protocols (SSPs) for clarithromycin – a commonly prescribed
antibiotic to treat this bacterial infection.

Pharmacy bodies had recently warned that community pharmacies were struggling to obtain source clarithromycin for patients.

Two SSPs, covering clarithromycin 125mg/5mL and 250mg/5mL oral suspensions, were reactivated on 22 May 2024, and extended until 21 June 2024.

These protocols state that for every 5mL of clarithromycin 125mg/5mL oral suspension, pharmacy contractors must supply 2.5mL of clarithromycin 250mg/5mL oral
suspension; and for every 5mL of clarithromycin 250mg/5mL oral suspension, one clarithromycin 250mg tablet must be supplied.

The SSPs apply to cross-border prescriptions, both NHS and private.