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‘Significant ongoing disruption’: DH issues two new SSPs for HRT

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has issued two new serious shortage protocols (SSPs) for hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Estradot 50mcg and 100mcg patches are now on the list of SSPs due to “significant ongoing disruption” to supply, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) announced yesterday (January 25).

Both SSPs were effective immediately as of yesterday and are currently set to expire on February 17, although they “may be amended or revoked at any time”, it said.

Under the new SSPs:

  • One Evorel 50mcg patch must be supplied for every Estradot 50mcg patch originally prescribed (SSP048)
  • One Evorel 100mcg patch must be supplied for every Estradot 100mcg patch originally prescribed (SSP049)


Do not double up strengths


However, the PSNC stressed that the two SSPs “do not allow pharmacists to double up strengths”, meaning they cannot supply two Estradot 25 patches against a prescription for one Estradot 50 patch for example.

The protocols also do not allow pharmacists to supply quantities covering less than the number of days originally prescribed and only allow substitution of Estradot patches for Evorel patches of the same strengths, it said.

There are no SSPs in place for other strengths of Estradot patches as they “are not affected by supply disruptions” and these should be “dispensed in accordance with the prescriptions”, it added.

Pharmacists should let the prescribing GP know when supplying medicines to a patient in accordance with SSPs and ensure that those “considered unsuitable for inclusion are promptly referred to their prescriber for further advice”, PSNC added.

“Pharmacists must exercise their professional judgement to ensure the alternative products are suitable for the patient,” it said.


Ongoing HRT supply issues


The new SSPs come after a brief reprieve in disruption last month, when six of the original 12 SSPs for HRT expired and pharmacists were able to resume dispensing products in line with prescriptions.

HRT products had been in and out of stock throughout last year, leading the DH to create a taskforce to deal with the ongoing crisis and supply issues.

In May, it issued 10 SSPs as part of the measures it introduced to alleviate HRT supply problems in the UK. The SSPs – which then rose to 12 – were further extended in July.

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

But 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.

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