Twelve of the thirteen serious shortage protocols (SSPs) for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) will be extended until 28 October, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has announced.

In an update published on Friday last week (28 July), the PSNC said SSPs would be extended for the drugs Ovestin, Oestrogel, Lenzetto and Sandrena. The only HRT SSP set to expire on 29 July is Premique.

The PSNC said: ‘After 29 July, there will be no need to restrict quantities of Premique tablets as its supply situation has now stabilised.’

In addition, it said the dose equivalence advice and endorsement guidance for SSP024 and SSP025 – which cover Ovestin - have been updated.

It comes after 10 SSPs for HRT drugs were announced in May, in addition to the three SSPs issued in April, following ongoing supply disruption to HRT products in recent months.

This comes after certain HRT vaginal tablets will be available over the counter without a prescription from September after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) gave the green light following a consultation.

This was the first time an application has been made for an HRT product in the UK to be reclassified as a pharmacy (P) medicine – meaning that it can be purchased over the counter from pharmacists

The ongoing shortages of HRT medicines have seen measures introduced to allow pharmacists to substitute HRT products for alternatives if the original prescription is out of stock without needing to seek authorisation from the patient’s GP.

In May, the RPS urged the Department of Health and Social Care to make the additional power granted to pharmacies permanent.

It had initially called 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.