About the Red Amber List

The Red Amber List of specialist medicines is a guide for practitioners in both primary and secondary care. The purpose of the list is to provide professional guidance on where prescribing responsibility should lie for specialist medicines that appear in the list, to ensure that clinicians can make an informed choice with regard to the prescribing of these medicines, and thereby facilitate access to these medicines by patients throughout Northern Ireland.

The Red/Amber categorisation was developed to enhance patient care and promote safety in the prescribing, supply and administration of specialist medicines. It’s primary function relates to patient safety and enhancement of services for patients prescribed specialist medicines; it does not take account of the cost implications of use of a particular medicine.

Red List: The Red list is an advisory list where it is considered by the Regional Group, that responsibility for prescribing should remain with the consultant or specialist clinician. It is recommended that the supply of these specialist medicines should be organised via the hospital pharmacy.
Amber List: The Amber list is an advisory list where it is considered by the Regional Group, that responsibility for prescribing may be transferred from secondary to primary care when agreed shared care arrangements for the patient have been established between specialist and GP.
The Regional Group consider which amber medicines require a regional shared care guideline to be commissioned to cover arrangements across N Ireland. These regional shared care guidelines are then drawn up following local discussion and agreement and are consulted on widely across the Service.

Using the Red/Amber list

It should be emphasised that the Red Amber List is advisory, and appearance of a medicine on the list does not imply endorsement of use, but rather a recommendation on prescribing responsibilities and whether or not the supply of a medicine should be organised through the hospital pharmacy network.

When the red or amber status of a drug is dependent on the indication this is stated, otherwise the indications given are those for which the medicine is commonly used. Some medicines are also grouped together and may not appear as individual entries on the list e.g. Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapies, Antiretrovirals, or Specialist Immunoglobulins.