Shortages of oestrogen-only HRT reported

'Exceptionally high demand' has resulted in shortages of Oestrogel, with knock-on effects on the availability of other oestrogen-only HRT products.

A middle-aged woman applies oestrogen gel to her forearm.
Women who cannot obtain Oestrogel may need to consider an equivalent alternative HRT preparation. | GETTY IMAGES

Besins Healthcare says it has experienced 'exceptionally high demand' for Oestrogel (estradiol 0.06% gel) over recent months, resulting in shortages of the product. Safety stocks have been depleted in order to meet the increased demand, meaning all new weekly deliveries into the country are being used immediately to fulfil current orders. 

As a result, Besins says some retail pharmacies may report the product as out of stock at their local wholesaler. The company expects this to be a short-term issue and says supplies should flow through to local wholesaler branches from the following week's delivery.

Alternative preparations

For women who are experiencing difficulty obtaining Oestrogel, the British Menopause Society advises considering alternative HRT preparations such as Sandrena (estradiol 500 microgram or 1mg gel) or Lenzetto (estradiol 1.53mg spray).

However, Orion Pharma has advised that all presentations of Sandrena are out of stock as of 24th March. The 500 microgram x 28 pack and 1mg x 28 pack are expected to be back in stock mid to late April. The 1mg x 91 pack is due back in stock by the end of March.

Gedeon Richter has confirmed the three-container pack of Lenzetto remains in full supply, with good levels of stock, but after a period of 'unusually high demand' they are experiencing a temporary shortage in supply with the single-container pack. The company expects this to be resolved in April 2022. 

A number of transdermal estradiol patches are also available. The MIMS HRT table helps healthcare professionals compare hormone doses, formulations and costs for these and all other HRT products marketed in the UK.

Besin says is it acutely aware of the concerns that women will have if they are unable to fulfil their Oestrogel prescription, and it is doing everything it can to manage, increase and expedite supplies to retail pharmacies across the country through wholesalers. The company can be contacted for further information at supplychain-BHUK@besins-healthcare.com.

Prescriptions for HRT have more than doubled in England over the past five years, according to NHS data. Figures from OpenPrescribing show that nearly 538,000 prescriptions for HRT treatment were issued in December 2021, compared with 238,000 in January 2017.

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