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DHSC issues SSPs for three HRT products to ensure continued access


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The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has issued Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) on three HRT medicines to limit dispensing supply to three months.

To ensure women across the UK will be able to more reliably access HRT products SSPs has been issued on the supply of Oestrogel, Ovestin cream and Premique Low Dose.

DHSC stated, “Women who have a prescription for more than three months but are only able to access three months’ supply will not have to pay an additional prescription charge.”

“This means women will not incur any additional costs. Imposing a three month limit will mean more women are able to access the medication they want. Any woman who is worried about access to HRT or is unable to access HRT should speak to her GP.”

Recently, Vaccine Taskforce Director General Madelaine McTernan has been appointed to spearhead a new HRT Supply Taskforce, applying lessons learned from the successful procurement seen during the Covid vaccination programme to identify ways to support the HRT supply chain ensuring it can meet both short and long term demand. The move will save time for patients as well as pharmacists and prescribers who are working tirelessly to tackle the covid backlog.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said, “I want to reassure women I have listened to their concerns and will not hesitate to take decisive action to ensure they can access the HRT they need.”

“We will leave no stone unturned in our national mission to boost supply of HRT – and this next step will ensure women across the UK will be able to reliably access this vital medication and maintain this lifeline for millions who need it.

“Demand for HRT has dramatically risen with a 38% increase in the number of prescription items over the last seven years as there is greater awareness around the menopause and GPs are more confident in prescribing. Supplies of the vast majority of HRT products, including alternatives to those affected, currently remain available.”

The SSPs, which are set to expire on Friday 29 July 2022, allow community pharmacists to supply the three specified HRT products according to the protocol rather than the written prescription, without needing to seek authorization from the prescriber.

This will even out distribution of in demand for products such as Oestrogels which have recently experienced issues due to rising demand. Pharmacists are expected to use their professional judgement when deciding to apply the SSP and patients must be consulted.


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