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HRT supply: Are key manufacturers still experiencing stock issues?

Following the dissolution of the government’s hormone replacement therapy (HRT) taskforce, C+D has approached key manufacturers to understand whether they are still struggling to meet soaring demand.

The government’s HRT taskforce was disbanded in September, mere months after it was brought together to address rising demand for menopause products.

Although the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) told C+D at the time that access to products such as Oestrogel gel had seen “a very substantial increase”, some pharmacists noted that inconsistent supply of some products continued to be a concern. 

Read more: HRT prescriptions soar by over a third in just one year

C+D asked key HRT manufacturers for an update on stock availability and how they have kept up with demand following the taskforce’s dissolution.


Steady supply for some


Three out of the four manufacturers that responded to C+D’s request reported steady supply of their HRT products in the UK.

A Novartis spokesperson told C+D last week (October 6) that while it is “not experiencing any Estradot supply issues at present”, any issues will be “promptly” communicated to the DH.

Besins, which in June acquired a pharmaceutical manufacturing site in Belgium to help boost supply of products such as Oestrogel, said it had “sufficient stock of [its] HRT range, with ongoing regular supplies”.

Its wholesalers also have sufficient stocks of Besins’ products, the spokesperson added.

“Our efforts to increase supplies appear to be making a difference,” they stated, adding that the DH’s introduction of serious shortage protocols “may have also helped to manage the supply and demand of HRT products”. 

The spokesperson advised any pharmacy facing difficulties in obtaining Besins HRT products to contact the manufacturer at [email protected], quoting their wholesaler account details.

Finally, a Novo Nordisk spokesperson told C+D that none of its HRT medicines were experiencing shortages and that its “HRT stocks remain unaffected by supply issues”.


“Challenges” for Orion Pharma


Meanwhile, Orion told C+D that it had “experienced challenges fulfilling orders” of its Sandrena Gel due to the “unprecedented increase in demand over recent months”.

Although the manufacturer is receiving “frequent supplies” of HRT products from its European parent company, “this heightened demand means that we go out of stock very quickly”, the spokesperson said.

“We are doing everything we can to manage and increase supplies for the UK,” they added. “We hope that this situation will resolve [itself] in the coming weeks.”

Orion apologised for the supply difficulties and acknowledged “how distressing this is for people that are unable to obtain supplies of their medication”.


Novartis “investigating increasing capacity”


The Novartis spokesperson told C+D that the manufacturer is “currently investigating increasing capacity from manufacturing side”.

Read more: DH’s HRT taskforce to disband as pharmacists report persistent supply issues

However, they emphasised that this would be “a significant, long-term investment”.

Meanwhile, Novo Nordisk said it that although it is “planning for all future contingencies to ensure a strong continuation of supply to…the UK”, it is currently “in a good position, with high stock levels in the UK”. 


Taskforce aftermath


Besins told C+D that it is continuing to “monitor market demand” for HRT products after the disbandment of the HRT taskforce, which had “not impacted the execution of [its] ongoing plans”.

“We are continuing our dialogue with the DH regarding our products, and they continue to receive our latest supply information,” the manufacturer added. 

Novartis is also holding  “regular meetings with all members of the original taskforce” and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), “to address the increased demand” for HRT products.

In fact, its latest “face-to-face meeting” with the ABPI took place yesterday (October 10), the spokesperson said.


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