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UPDATED: Serious shortage protocol issued for HRT drug Utrogestan

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has issued a serious shortage protocol (SSP) for Utrogestan 100mg capsules.

From today (May 19), pharmacists will be able to dispense a maximum of two months’ supply of the hormone replacement therapy drug, the DH announced this afternoon.

“Temporarily changing” prescriptions for the drug to a maximum of two months’ supply will “help ensure continued access for women who use this popular medicine”, it said.

It is expected that the supply of Utrogestan will be “intermittent” until late 2023.

The SSP is expected to lift on August 18, according to the NHS Business Services Authority.

Read more: DH extends 11 HRT and penicillin SSPs until mid-May

While Utrogestan's manufacturer Besins is "frequently" making deliveries of the product, it has "struggled to meet rising demand", the DH said.
 
"The manufacturer is taking steps to increase supply, but in the meantime the SSP will support access to available stock," it added.
 
The DH said it is continuing to “monitor the HRT supply position very closely”.

 

"Decisive action"

 

Meanwhile, the minister for the women’s health strategy Maria Caulfield said that the DH’s “decisive action” in issuing the SSP will “mean more women will be able to access this medicine”.

She added that the "vast majority of HRT products are in good supply" and that the "overall" supply of HRT products has "improved considerably over the last year".

“We continue working to help ensure continuity of supply", she said, adding that she is "encouraged" by the industry's response to the "growth in demand" and the DH's "continued calls for action to boost supply to meet it".

Read more: Pharmacy time spent sourcing medicines more than doubles to 11 hours a week

The DH stressed that of the 22 HRT SSPs issued since April last year, only two remain in place - one for Progynova 100microgram patches and the other for Utrogestan 100mg capsules.

Last month, it extended 11 SSPs for HRT medicine Sandrena and antibiotic penicillin until May 12, when they expired.

HRT shortages have plagued pharmacists for months, with the latest SSP issued just last month.

And it comes as the new HRT pre-payment certificate (PPC) – which the government has admitted will create additional “costs” for pharmacies – came into force April 1.

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