A combined body identical HRT treatment has been approved for use across NHS Scotland, pharmaceutical company Theramex has announced.

Bijuve, a combined oral capsule containing 1mg estradiol and 100mg progesterone, is the first combined body identical oral treatment approved for use in the UK and will be available across Scotland following its approval by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).

The body identical treatment, meaning it is practically identical to hormones produced by the body, is indicated for estrogen deficiency symptoms in post-menopausal women (with intact uterus and at least 12 months since last menses).

The treatment is also available in some formularies in England. Tina Backhouse, UK general manager at Theramex, called for the introduction of a national formulary in England, which she said would lead to more equitable access to the treatment and could ease pressure on HRT supplies.

She said: ‘We are delighted that women in Scotland will now have access to a greater array of menopause treatments with the addition of Bijuve.

‘We do hope that timely adoption of Bijuve onto local Scottish formularies is prioritised so women have access to more treatment choices. Theramex would welcome the introduction of a centralised national formulary in England, which would take us a step closer to equitable access for patients.’

Ms Backhouse told The Pharmacist that the oral combined treatment, which is taken once a day, would give patients more choice of treatment, and would only need one prescription fee.

Other HRT treatments include non-body-identical options, or body-identical oestrogen administered via a patch or a gel, which in patients with a womb must be taken alongside a separate body-identical progesterone tablet to combat the increased risk of cancer.

Dr Heather Currie, gynaecologist and Associate Medical Director at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, said: ‘This is really helpful for women in Scotland and will offer another option for women who choose to take HRT. There is not one type or regimen which suits all women and having more options takes us a step closer to ensuring women across all nations in the UK are able to find a preparation that suits them.’

Dr Paula Briggs, sexual and reproductive health and chair of the British Menopause Society, said, ‘The availability of a body-identical progesterone is welcome news for the women of Scotland. I am pleased to see more options for the treatment of menopause becoming available. As clinicians, it is vital we empower our patients to make well informed choices on what is available and what works best for them.’

Earlier this month, the first non-prescription HRT treatment was approved for sale in pharmacies.  The Gina 10 microgram vaginal tablets (estradiol) went on sale at Boots on 9 September and will be rolled out to independent pharmacies later this month.

Demand for HRT treatment has surged in recent months, but products have been in short supply. In August, the government announced that supplies of Oestrogel had doubled, but campaigner Mariella Frostrup described this as 'more hot air'. 

'The HRT shortages continue, despite assurances that they're being solved,' she said. 'Doubling the amount of Oestrogel available isn't going to solve the problem, particularly when the amount of women relying on HRT has also doubled,' she added.