22 July 2024

Bipolar UK is deeply concerned about the potential impact of the current national shortage of certain medications. This includes Quetiapine, which is an antipsychotic taken by many people who live with bipolar. 

The NHS reports that these shortages will continue until at least the end of August 2024. 

The shortages are mostly for the higher strengths of immediate-release Quetiapine. This includes 150mg, 200mg and 300mg tablets. 

For anyone concerned about the impact of these shortages, here are some answers to your commonly asked questions: 

Q. Who is affected by these shortages of Quetiapine?

This is a nationwide issue affecting all pharmacies across the UK. 

Q. What can happen if I stop taking Quetiapine?

If you stop taking Quetiapine suddenly, it can cause side effects, such as mood swings, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, dizziness and irritability. It can also potentially cause bipolar symptoms to get worse. 

It is important that you get the right support and help if you cannot get your prescription for Quetiapine.

Q. What can I do if I can’t get Quetiapine at my pharmacy?

If your usual pharmacist hasn’t got any Quetiapine in stock, take the following steps:

  1. Don’t suddenly stop taking your medication.
  2. Whenever possible, plan ahead and pick up your prescription and medication before you run out.
  3. Phone the pharmacy before you pick up your medication to check they have it in stock - and ask them to put it aside for you.
  4. Try other pharmacies that may have it in stock. Your local pharmacy may phone other pharmacies to check for you, or use the NHS Find a Pharmacy page.
  5. Ask your pharmacist to follow these nine Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) issued by the Department of Health and Social Care so they can consider different options and allow continued supply. 
  6. Check and see if you have any unused Quetiapine at home. Make sure they’re the right dose and that they’re still in date. Do not take out-of-date medication. 
  7. If you can’t get the medication you need in time, please speak to your GP or mental health team as soon as possible. They may be able to adjust your prescription temporarily whilst the shortages are ongoing.
  8. If you cannot get hold of your GP, ring 111 to ask for advice.

It is vital that you do not make any changes to your medication without medical supervision or advice from a qualified professional.

Q. Where can I get support or advice if I’m worried about these shortages?

  • If you are feeling anxious about these shortages, please speak to a trusted friend or family member and ask them to help you.
  • For advice and practical information, call our Peer Support Line
  • To talk to others who understand what it’s like to face the same issues, join our eCommunity
  • If you are in a crisis, get urgent help 

Last updated: 22 July 2024