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Six HRT Serious Shortage Protocols expire as supply issues ease

Six of the original 12 Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) issued for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have expired, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has confirmed.

PSNC asked pharmacists to resume dispensing some HRT products in line with prescriptions, after six SSPs expired earlier this week (November 30).

It comes after the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) confirmed that there was “sufficient stock” of Oestrogel Pump Pack (estradiol) 0.06% gel and Ovestin (estriol 0.1%) 1mg cream “to meet normal demand”.

HRT products have been in and out of stock this year, leading the DH to bring together a taskforce to address the ongoing supply issues.

In May, it issued 10 SSPs as part of the measures it introduced to alleviate HRT supply problems in the UK.

Each protocol specified whether pharmacists are allowed to restrict the quantity of the product supplied, substitute the product with a specific alternative, or a combination of the two.

The SSPs – which then rose to 12 – were further extended in July.

The HRT taskforce was disbanded in August, with the DH stating that access to products such as Oestrogel gel had seen “a very substantial increase”.

However, pharmacists C+D spoke to at the time said they were still struggling to access HRT products, as well as a host of other medicines.

C+D reported in June that Besins Healthcare had acquired a pharmaceutical manufacturing site in Belgium to help it increase its supply of Oestrogel to the UK and meet the extraordinary demand for HRT products.

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