Who are Specials for?
The patients who are most often prescribed an unlicensed medicine are the most vulnerable groups in society.
A premature baby that can't tolerate a standard dose; a stroke patient or older patient who has lost the swallow reflex and needs liquid medicine, a child with learning difficulties who won't take a tablet and needs a liquid format, a patient in intensive care who has specific intravenous nutritional needs, a cancer patient undergoing complex oncology or someone with skin problems who has an allergic reaction to common drug excipients and needs a preservative free formulation.
Many licensed medicines are not developed in the correct dosage or formulation for these patients and so would be too costly for it to be commercially viable for pharmaceutical companies. This is why prescribers are given the freedom to prescribe any drug in any formulation for these patients. In some cases and for patients in hospital, these Specials are sometimes made up by the hospital pharmacy. In others, the patient can take their prescription to any pharmacist and their Special will be individually made to order for them and delivered usually the following day.
Because of MHRA regulations, companies can't provide information about an unlicensed medicine. However, please see the case studies page in this section for examples of how unlicensed medicine has benefited patients.