New shortage protocols allow pharmacists to limit HRT supplies
Pharmacists are allowed to limit prescribing cycles for three HRT products following the announcement of new serious shortage protocols (SSPs).
The SSPs for Oestrogel 750mcg gel, Ovestin 1mg cream and Premique Low Dose were introduced on Friday in an attempt to help women “more reliably access HRT products” amidst ongoing shortages, said the Department of Health and Social Care.
The protocols allow pharmacists to use their judgement to decide whether to limit supplies for these products to a maximum of three months’ worth, without having to seek authorisation from GPs to reduce the amount that is dispensed.
Women who have prescriptions for a longer period will not have to pay additional prescription charges.
The Government said this is a response to “concerns regarding longer prescribing cycles putting pressure on availability of some HRT products” and that the SSPs would “even out distribution,” adding that they are currently set to expire on Friday July 29.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said: “I want to reassure women I have listened to their concerns and will not hesitate to take decisive action to ensure they can access the HRT they need.
“We will leave no stone unturned in our national mission to boost supply of HRT – and this next step will ensure women across the UK will be able to reliably access this vital medication and maintain this lifeline for millions who need it.”
The announcement came as the Government revealed that the individual selected to head up its new HRT taskforce is Madelaine McTernan, current head of the vaccine taskforce.
She will be tasked with working with suppliers to “understand constraints and develop plans for what can be done to ensure both short and long-term supply meet rising demand,” said the Government.
Ms McTernan said: “We will apply the key learnings from the successful way the vaccine taskforce have procured life-saving vaccines during the pandemic to help ensure women have reliable ongoing access to these critical medicines.”