Medicine shortages – share your story

26 June 2024

There have been recent reports of medicines in critical shortage in the UK. Recent Community Pharmacy England report suggests there are “immediate risks to patient health and wellbeing.”

Over the last few years, medicine shortages have been increasingly common and have been reported in widespread national news. We know that there are hundreds of medicines which are affected by shortages up and down the country, some of which are specifically used by people living with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). NRAS has been made aware that abatacept 125mg pre-filled injection pens are expected to be in short supply from June 2024 onwards.

In light of the ongoing medicine shortages from a pharmaceutical side, Community Pharmacy England have undertaken a report of their registered pharmacists to understand the scale of the issue. The Pressures Survey 2024: Medicine Supply Report ( was released on 9 May 2024 and documents views from the owners of over 6,100 pharmacy premises in England and 2,000 pharmacy team members.

The report shows that 79% of pharmacy team members surveyed reported that patient health is being put at risk due to medicine supply issues and 99% were encountering medicine supply issues at least once a week and 72% experiencing multiple issues every day. This is a staggering number which shows the scale of the ongoing issue with medicine supply.

The survey also indicates that pharmacists are also having to dispense part-prescriptions and issuing owings for the remainder of medicines. This means that you are not able to collect your entire prescription and will have to return at a later date. This can put additional strain for people living with long term health conditions. Some pharmacists reported having to change branded medications from the prescription to ensure that patients had sufficient supply.  

The report identifies many different medicines which are in short supply across all domains but NRAS have been advised that there are ongoing issues in the production of Abatacept autoinjector pen which contains a biologic therapy commonly used for people living with RA and JIA. It is anticipated that the shortage will be in place until September or October 2024.

NHS England have released guidance to all relevant professionals regarding Abatacept and advising the following:

  • Not start new patients on any Abatacept products.
  • Work with their homecare provider(s) to identify which patients will switch to Abatacept 125mg/1ml pre-filled syringes, prioritising paediatric patients and those being treated for severe treatment-resistant morphoea.
  • Review remaining patients and prescribe Abatacept 250mg powder for concentrate for solution for infusion, if appropriate.

We know hearing that your medicine is in short supply can be very scary and the prospect of being moved to a different medicine or to an infusion can be a very unsettling time. If you need any support regarding this issue or any others, please know that our Helpline team is here to help. You can contact our Helpline on 0800 298 7650 we are open from Monday to Friday from 9:30am-4:30pm.

If you’ve experienced a medicine shortage or been informed about Abatacept and want to share your story, please get in touch with our campaigns team on with the title “Medicine Shortages”.