Pharmaceutical company, Besins Healthcare, has announced it will increase production of its Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) products, including the companies estradiol containing gel, Oestrogel.

In an attempt to boost production after a huge increase in demand, the manufacturer acquired a new manufacturing site in Drogenbos, Belgium.

The new site will exclusively manufacture its HRT products - including Oestrogel - the manufacturer said in an announcement yesterday (22 July).

Earlier in April, the British Menopause Society warned members and healthcare professionals of noticeable ongoing shortages of Oestrogel.

More stocks of the HRT gel from the new manufacturing site are due to reach the UK in August, a spokesperson from Besins told The Pharmacist today (23 July).

Besins said the new site was an ‘a strategic purchase’ that will ‘increase production of its own products, offering greater efficiencies and greater integration into the company’s supply line’.

Madelaine McTernan, the newly appointed head of the HRT supply task force said the announcement was ‘very positive news’.

‘Besins continue to play a key role in our ongoing positive engagement with the sector and I welcome this step that should reinforce and expand future production capacity to meet rising demand.’

In April, Besign Healthcare told The Pharmacist it believed ‘increased media coverage on the menopause’ is causing the increasing appetite among consumers for HRT.

It also said an increase in social media posts ‘driven by women demanding better and more equal treatment of the menopause’ was causing the high demand.

The HRT shortages also come after prescription data, published last month, suggested HRT prescriptions had doubled over the last five years.

Pharmacists have since been granted temporary powers to substitute HRT products for alternatives if the original prescription is out of stock, as part of a host of new rules aimed at tackling the medicine shortage.

The additional power granted to pharmacists by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) comes alongside 10 new HRT Serious Shortage Protocols (SSP) involving five medicines.

The RPS is now urging the DHSC to make the power permanent, after initially calling for the move in part to save pharmacists’ time by allowing them to dispense substitute versions of medicines without having to contact the prescriber for permission.

Last year, the Government announced it would be launching a single annual prepayment for HRT.

The scheme, which some thought was meant to begin ‘within months’, was first announced in October 2021 and has the potential to save individuals up to £205 by enabling women to pay one charge for a 12-month supply of HRT.

However, its launch has already been delayed by a year. which pharmacy leaders have deemed ‘disappointing’. The Government now says this system will be implemented from April 2023.