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HRT patch out of stock from end of February due to ‘production bottleneck’

An estradiol valerate hormone replacement therapy (HRT) patch will be out of stock from the “end of February” due to a “production bottleneck”, C+D has learned.

Manufacturer Bayer told C+D that “there is a stockout” of its HRT Progynova TS 100micrograms/ 24 hours Transdermal Patch in the UK from the “end of February”.

Read more: PSNC: HRT pre-payment certificate poses 'financial risk' to pharmacies

This is “due to a temporary manufacturing interruption resulting in a production bottleneck”, it said.

The issue has impacted “global supply of the product in a number of countries”, the manufacturer added.


“Mitigation measures”


Bayer told C+D that it “regrets the inconvenience caused” by the shortage and is “making every effort to ensure mitigation measures are implemented to limit the impact on patients and our customers”.

The manufacturer has informed the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and customers of the “anticipated supply disruption and will continue to provide updates to the UK healthcare professionals”, it said.

Read more: DH extends HRT SSPs and issues new protocol for paracetamol

“Bayer is committed to women’s health, and we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause to patients and healthcare professionals,” it added.

It suggested that women affected by the shortage consult their doctor to “discuss appropriate alternative treatment options”.


Bayer will be informed if wholesaler stocks are exhausted, it added.



“Pot luck”



The news comes as a number of pharmacies are reporting HRT shortages of patches and other drugs.

Garry Forbes, lead pharmacist at M Whitfield Pharmacy in Durham, told C+D that with HRT shortages “going on and off for several years now”, it’s “pot luck as to whether we can get what a patient needs”.

He added that shortages “have been worse lately” with Estradot HRT patches in particular “more or less completely gone except for a few in-between doses that not a lot of people seem to be on”.


“Distressed patients”


“A lot of the time we’ll try an alternative for the patient, so if they were on 50 [mgs] we’ll double up on the 25 [mgs], but by the time we’ve arranged that, they’re out of stock as well,” Mr Forbes said.

“Due to the nature of what they’re being treated for, sometimes their tempers can be quite short so it can be very, very distressing for the patient,” he added.

Read more: HRT patches ‘out of stock’ as DH issues six medicine shortage notifications

He told C+D that if the government is “doing anything” to mitigate shortages, he is “not seeing any benefit”.

And pharmacist at Brighton Community Pharmacy Mehdi Kazem added that some patients “become very upset because they’re going from one pharmacy to another while they are working, often using their one-hour lunch break to get their HRT”.

Read more: DH extends three serious shortage protocols for HRT products as two expire

“All I can do is check the wholesaler,” he said. “If I have it, I give it. If not I check the wholesalers and often it’s: ‘There’s an issue, sorry.’ It’s very hard.”

“I’ve had problems getting hold of HRT across the board,” he told C+D. “For short periods, you can get the products, then they disappear again.”


Return of the HRT taskforce?


A DH spokesperson told C+D that “medicine supply issues can occur for a number of reasons, including manufacturing difficulties and sudden spikes in demand”.

“Occasionally, this may cause the NHS to experience temporary disruption to the supply of specific medicines,” they added.

However, they declined to confirm whether the DH is considering reinstating its HRT supply taskforce, which was disbanded in August when the DH said the products had seen a “very substantial increase”.

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

“We have accepted the recommendations of the HRT taskforce in full, including the continued use of serious shortage protocols (SSPs) when appropriate to manage shortages,” they said.


They added that the DH recognises that the menopause “can be a challenging time for women” and has “put women’s health at the top of the agenda as part of the first-ever women’s health strategy for England”.


It comes as the pharmacy negotiator has raised concerns that a new pre-payment certificate (PPC) for HRT will cause “additional workload and financial risk” for pharmacy teams.

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