Community pharmacists and HRT suppliers met with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to discuss disruptions to the supply of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medicines.

Members PSNC and the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) were among the community pharmacy representatives present at the roundtable yesterday (5 May) on the impact of the shortages on patients.

Pharmacists were asked to suggest what they thought could be done to improve the shortage situation.

The talks also involved several HRT manufacturers including Pfizer, Novo Nordisk and Besins-Healthcare who ‘outlined the steps they’re taking to boost supply’, according to DHSC.

Reflecting on the discussions, the health secretary Sajid Javid and women’s minister Maria Caulfield said they would be ‘working collaboratively with manufacturers to meet demand and boost supply'.

They explained that they were going to look at ‘wider solutions’ such as ‘improving the communication between the Government, manufacturers and pharmacists and understand how the market might change to ensure demand is being met now and in the future.’

Pharmacists in England can now limit the amount of HRT products women can access to help manage the severe shortage of medication.

The Pharmacist has previously reported that the shortage is due, in part, to a rise in demand as a result of greater awareness around menopause, with a 38% increase in the number of prescription items over the past seven years.

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.

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