The first MHRA-licensed treatment for vitamin D deficiency in young children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers has been launched in the UK by Internis Pharamceuticals.

Vitamin D is essential in helping breast-fed infants to absorb calcium, but 24% of the UK population are thought to suffer from a deficiency.

Non-licensed treatments can sometime have inconsistent doses that lead to patients taking more vitamin D than is recommended, a problem Internis is hoping to address with its Fultium-D3 Drops (colecalciferol).

Brian Curwain, pharmaceutical consultant, says: “Unlicensed supplements are not subject to strict regulation of their manufacturing; they are known to vary in composition and quality.

“Where the prescriber has issued a generic prescription for vitamin D, it is then the pharmacist’s responsibility to ensure the safe fulfilment of that prescription. Supplying a non-MHRA licensed supplement as opposed to a licensed medicine will mean that the pharmacist is likely to be liable should the patient suffer any adverse reactions, particularly if they have not consulted the prescriber regarding the supply."

Christine Burren, consultant paediatric endocrinologist at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children adds: “Our lifestyle and climate mean that many of us do not manufacture enough of our own vitamin D and yet dietary sources are limited.

“Current public health guidance indicates that all infants and children up to 5 years of age are advised to take a vitamin D supplement. The availability of an accurately formulated, licensed drops formulation is relevant and very useful for this age group.”