HRT taskforce concluded as supply improves

·2-min read

The hormone replacement therapy (HRT) taskforce has been wound up following an “improvement” in supply of the drugs used to alleviate menopause symptoms, the Department of Health and Social Care has said.

The head of the vaccine taskforce was reassigned to help with the HRT shortage earlier this year.

But Madelaine McTernan will now resume her normal duties after making recommendations on supply issues to government, the Department said.

DHSC said that the Menopause Taskforce, which meets every two months, will “continue to tackle issues surrounding the menopause including increasing access to treatment”.

Shortages earlier this year meant that thousands of menopausal women struggled to get key medication, which led to online swaps and medicines being offered on the black market.

A number of initiatives were launched to try to alleviate pressures on the supply chain.

This included giving pharmacists greater freedoms to supply alternatives and issuing “serious shortage protocols” on some products to limit the amount which can be dispensed to each patient to a three-month supply.

Prescriptions counter at Boots pharmacy, England, UK
Pharmacists have been greater freedoms to supply alternative HRT drugs (Alex Segre/Alamy/PA)

The department said that suppliers have also moved to secure additional stock and expedite deliveries of HRT products experiencing supply issues.

Officials said that there was a “substantial increase” in the supply of Oestrogel in July – one of the main products caught up in supply issues earlier this year.

Ms McTernan has recommended that dialogue continues with the industry to ensure supply and that the “serious shortage protocols” can be used where necessary.

Meanwhile, she also called for “continued assessment whether NHS formularies may be impacting access to HRT” – formularies are a list of recommended medicines.

“I am pleased to see the situation with HRT supply is improving across the country,” she said.

“I want to thank suppliers and manufacturers for their engagement and positive action to tackle this serious issue.

“I have presented my key learnings on how the department can continue to manage HRT supply and work with the industry as it continues efforts to meet rising demand.”