Pharmacists have more freedom to choose alternative HRT products when the original prescription is not available.
The Government’s HRT Supply Taskforce, set up to address widespread shortages, has agreed to further develop Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) to give pharmacists more control – something they have been calling for.
This means that women can be offered another product at the pharmacy to relieve their symptoms if their normal HRT is not available.
In late April, the government enacted three SSPs to limit the dispensing of Estrogel, Ovestin and Premique Low Dose to three month’s supplies to relieve systemic pressure.
The two new additional SSPs are for Lenzetto Transdermal Spray and Sandrena Gel, which are also placed on a three-month pack.
According to the rules, all of these items can generally be replaced with transdermal patches.
Thousands of menopausal women are struggling to get their hands on essential medicines, which has led to online swap sites and black market medicines.
In the new announcement, the government said there had recently been further shipments of popular products Estrogel, Ovestin and Premique Low Dose.
Premique now has good availability, it said, while makers of Estrogel and Ovestin work to increase supply in the UK.
Health and Social Care Minister Sajid Javid said: “We are working to ensure HRT is available to everyone who needs it and I am pleased that suppliers are continuing to increase the supply of some products, which is a testament to the adopted cooperative approach is .
“Meetings with suppliers are ongoing and we are taking decisive action to address HRT supply challenges and reduce delays – this includes issuing more SSPs to ensure women have access to the medicines they need.”
Pharmacists have also been given the power to share medicines where appropriate.
Professor Claire Anderson, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “We welcome the news that more SSPs for hormone replacement therapy products have been introduced.
“This short-term measure will help women gain access to HRT medicines that are hard to come by.
“This is a very volatile situation as some products will return to normal availability shortly.
“However, the bureaucracy involved in completing the SSP process for each individual patient is quite onerous for pharmacists and we hope that under the leadership of the new HRT Czar, the shortage of HRT products will be rectified as soon as possible will.
“Ultimately, we want a change in the law that makes the whole process easier and faster for both pharmacists and patients.
“The advice on which HRT product to replace with another has been prepared by experts and women can rest assured that they are getting what is right for them.
“Women should speak to their pharmacist if they have concerns about their HRT medication.”
Madelaine McTernan, Head of the HRT Supply Taskforce, said: “I am very encouraged by the constructive engagement across the industry and the enthusiasm with which suppliers and pharmacists are trying to work with us to meet this challenge.
“It is critical to focus both on actions to ensure we can use inventory most efficiently and to ensure supply is increased.”