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DHSC re-classifies Rybelsus tablets as special containers

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In case the quantity of Rybelsus tablets ordered falls exactly between two containers, pharmacy teams are allowed to round down and supply the nearest complete container 

All three strengths of Rybelsus tablets (3mg, 7mg and 14mg) have been re-classified as special containers, allowing pharmacy teams to dispense the complete pack size or a combination of complete packs closest to the ordered quantity.

After a request from Community Pharmacy England (CPE), backed by Novo Nordisk Ltd, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) reassessed the special container status of the tablets and found that these products met the relevant criteria outlined in the Drug Tariff.

Rybelsus (semaglutide) tablets are a prescription medicine used to lower blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Although studies indicate its efficacy in promoting weight loss, it is not approved as a weight loss medicine.  These are a once-a-day tablet that is recommended as an adjunct to diet and exercise.

If the quantity of semaglutide tablets ordered falls exactly between two containers, pharmacy teams are allowed to round down and supply the nearest complete container.

For example, for a prescription requesting 28 Rybelsus tablets (any strength), pharmacy owners will be reimbursed the nearest complete pack size which is 30 tablets. Similarly, for a prescription requesting 56 Rybelsus tablets (any strength), pharmacy owners will be reimbursed based on a combination of containers nearest to the quantity ordered which is 60 tablets (2 packs of 30 tablets).

Since August 2019, the Dispensing & Supply team of Community Pharmacy England has reviewed over 4,000 products against Drug Tariff special container criteria, particularly focussing on drugs that are considered “hygroscopic, viscous external preparations and those packaged into containers from which it is not practical to dispense the exact quantity.”

Among those reviewed, the Committee has identified and submitted applications for nearly 900 products that appear to meet one or more of the special container criteria but are not annotated as such in the Drug Tariff and/or the NHS Dictionary of Medicines and Devices (dm+d).

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