On 1st September 2015, The Scottish Government published a national framework for the procurement of Specials/Unlicensed medicines – PCA(P)(2015)17 . This supersedes previous NHS Lothian guidance.


It is important that community pharmacists are aware of the associated responsibilities and risks of procuring and dispensing an unlicensed medicine and that they ensure the clinical appropriateness of any product supplied.

The authorisation process is only for unlicensed medicines and does not relate to any other products e.g. those categorised ACBS, foodstuffs, stoma products, high value licensed medicines.

Once it is certain that it is an unlicensed medicine that is required then authorisation must be sought from NHS Lothian.You need to send a completed authorisation form to the manned email inbox.A link to the form can also be found here :NHS Lothian Authorisation Form​




 The primary care pharmacy team  access the specials mailbox regularly throughout the day from 10am-4pm Mon-Fri. Emails must be sent from your NHS mail generic mailbox and the specials team will also email back to here.This is vital to ensure patient identifiable information is sent over a secure internet connection. This email address can also be used for any general queries regarding the authorisation process or unlicensed medicines.​​​

The email address to send your completed forms to is : Specials@nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk 


Key Points:

  • Authorisation is valid for 12 months ONLY
  • If the item price varies by more than 20% within the 12 month period, reauthorisation is required

  • Authorisation is required for each patient, not each medicine

  • Do not submit copies of COC/COA/Invoices to NHS Lothian




Last Reviewed: 23/08/2017