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Wholesalers banned from exporting or hoarding progesterone

The government has restricted wholesalers from exporting or hoarding progesterone, as pharmacists face ongoing shortages of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) this week added progesterone to their list of restricted medicines.


Medicines on the list cannot be exported or hoarded, as they are “needed for UK patients”, according to the government.


Read more: UPDATED: Serious shortage protocol issued for HRT drug Utrogestan


The latest update to the list, published this week (May 24), saw progesterone 100mg oral capsules added, with the restriction effective as of yesterday (May 25).


Progesterone is the active ingredient in Utrogestan 100mg capsules, which this month became the subject of a serious shortage protocol (SSP).



"Critical shortage"



The DH and MHRA add medicines to the list if there is “evidence of a critical shortage” or they are at “risk of being in shortage”, according to DH guidance.


Medicines are also added to the list if their export might “contribute to a shortage or risk of shortage of that medicine in the UK”, it said.


A wholesaler found by the MHRA to have hoarded or exported a restricted medicine could face the “immediate suspension” of their wholesale dealer licence, according to the DH.


Read more: Wholesalers blocked from exporting or hoarding two flu drugs as cases rise


In December, the DH restricted the export and hoarding of two flu medications, oseltamivir (better known as Tamiflu) and zanamivir, as well as a number of antibiotics for the treatment of strep A.


Three other medicines have been added to the restricted list this year. On February 24, antivirals molnupiravir and nirmatrelvir/ritonavir - also known as Paxlovid - were added.


Then on April 29, sugar-regulating hormone glucagon in powder and solution form for injection was included on the list. 


Read more: DH bans wholesalers from exporting or ‘hoarding’ strep A antibiotics


It comes as HRT shortages have plagued pharmacists for months, with the DH issuing an SSP for Utrogestan 100mg capsules last week (May 19).

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

These 11 HRT drugs and penicillin had previously had their SSP extended on April 3.

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