Is there really a UK Flecanide Shortage

I do not want to be alarmist but my pharmacy called me earlier this week and said there is a UK wide shortage of Flecanide and they cannot get any in before I will run out. They have asked my cardiologist for an alternative. Has anyone else heard the same story?

I am concerned as I have been taking 3x50mg of Flecanide for 3.5 years and have 2 ablation procedures that have failed to eliminate the AF. I am aware the range of drugs for treating AF is quite limited and certainly it took a while initially to get the dose of Flecanide to be effective.

13 Replies

  • Old news I'm afraid and quite unnecessary. The manufacturers have made it but the distribution people seem to be sluggish. Also many pharmacists do not stock it and rely on regular delivery. This first hit the board last autumn and it has neither got worse or better. My contacts in the trade tell me that there is always quiet a few drugs on short supply at any one time but we only ever hear about those that affect us. The secret is always put your repeat order in as soon as you get your previous collection then they have a month to sort out any shortages.

  • Telephone some of the pharmacies in your area to see if they have some in stock. The most likely people to have some is the larger Boots stores. Long story but I have investigated and phoned a supplier who were giving Boots priority and said shortage should be over by end of February, but if you can't get any perhaps it's not over.


  • All my medicines are prescribed for 8 weeks supply at a time and not four weeks.

  • As are mine but the surgery web site does not allow you to reorder meds before your due date. The practice manager once complained about the number of prescription requests that I put in. I told her that I am playing the game their way and have to ask for each when it becomes due or the next time the date for that one will have moved out.

    They also have an annual review date for meds. I needed Losartan last month but it came up that I needed to see nurse or doctor for a BP check first. I by chance had a nurse appointment but she could not get a reading so wanted me to see the doctor.

    I made an appointment and gave him a print out of my previous two weeks readings.

  • Same story in South Wales. 50mgs are harder to get than 100mg so my pharmacy gave me half the number of 100mgs to split in half. Might be worth trying that option?


  • I agree..phoning around is your best option but try an independent pharmacy first or ones who belong to a small chain too because the have many different wholesalers for supply as opposed to Boots who just have one. Boots might be supplied first with one manufacturer but there are different brands of generics . Hope ur successful

  • If you can afford it, you could also try to buy it privately. Possible the mail order people will have it in stock. The reserve option is to take a cheap trip to France: a private prescription should probably work in France etc. One option when I get stuck is to shop around in other countries.

  • OK thanks for the help everyone. Checked with my GPs pharmacy today, Flecanide is indefinitely unavailable from their supplier but have found some available at a local Boots. So will have to go and collect a prescription and collect some before the end of the week.

    It does seem a bit odd that the NHS does not seem to follow practice that would be second nature in any business; use an alternate supplier to ensure you can satisfy demand from your customers.

  • NHS does not supply drugs. All pharmacists & drug suppliers ARE private business, as are GP practices.

  • I had the same problem a couple of months ago and had to get another script to take to an alternative pharmacy. A word of warning the brand they gave me (I now wish I'd taken note) was awful; the tablets split and crumbled as I got them out of the blisters and we all know how bitter these things are at the best of time, without having to swallow the crumbs! Yuk!

    I can understand they can't be enteric coated so they act quickly, but I wish they could make them a bit nicer to take!

  • I have been having a problem getting my immune suppressants, unfortunately I cannot collect my repeat prescription early as my surgery has a date due so I cannot order before this date. This has resulted in the pharmacy never having enough in stock to supply my full, monthly prescription so then I have to return on a weekly basis. This really is 'just in time management'! The Consultant pharmacist for the new Devon CCG is on a drive to reduce medication hoarding.

    Last month 2 of us needed the same medication and they had put me off for several days anyway so I only had 1 days supply left. 2 pharmacists argued for the same meds in front of us - one for me and one for a kidney transplant patient - they split the box so at least we both got some - they were not supposed to do that. Although rather shocking, it was also rather nice having someone fight your corner!

  • Hi Cristatus,

    I live in Southend, Essex and have had the same message for the past couple of months. My doctor changed my prescription from Flecainide to Amiodorone. I am concerned about this as Amiodorone can have significant long term side effects.

  • Hi Seo262, yes I recall my cardiologist said the range of drugs for AF treatment is very limited and he considered Flecanide the best option for me at least. On the few occasions I have forgotten to take a tablet the symptoms return quickly and then my heart rate can take 5 to 7 days to fully settle again. So a change even on a temporary basis is something I want to avoid.

    I recall my cardiologist saying the minimum with Flecanide should always be 2 tablets per day as the drug is only effective for 12 to 13 hours once taken regardless of the dose, so forgetting a tablet even for a few hours can allow the AF to take hold.

    I would certainly prefer the hassle of shopping around to find an alternate pharmacy than changing medication.

    CDreamer, yes of course you are correct - but that makes it even more surprising they that do not then behave like a business and use an alternate supplier.

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