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Ministers restrict dispensing of menopause drug Utrogestan after supply issues

Ministers have moved to restrict the dispensing of a medicine used to treat the symptoms of menopause due to shortages being experienced in Britain.

The UK Government issued a serious shortage protocol (SSP) for Utrogestan 100mg capsules on Friday.

It means pharmacists will be able to dispense a maximum of two months’ supply per prescription in a bid to ensure women who use the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can continue to access treatment.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Utrogestan is expected to be in intermittent supply until late this year.

Officials said manufacturer Besins was increasing supply but was currently struggling to meet rising demand.

Women’s minister Maria Caulfield said: “Today’s decisive action will mean more women will be able to access this medicine, and I want to reassure women that the vast majority of HRT products are in good supply.

“The overall supply of HRT products has improved considerably over the last year and I am encouraged by how the industry is responding to the growth in demand and our continued calls for action to boost supply to meet it.

“We continue working to help ensure continuity of supply – which is a key part of increasing support for menopausal and pre-menopausal women and improving their quality of life.”

Hormone replacement therapy
Prescriptions of Utrogestan will be limited to two months’ supply due to supply shortages (Anthony Devlin/PA)

The DHSC said a serious shortage protocol was a standard procedure, used frequently to manage temporary and potential medicine supply issues.

Since April last year, 22 SSPs have been made for HRT products but the department said only two remain in place – one relating to Friday’s Utrogestan order and a second for Progynova 100 microgram patches.

An official said some HRT medicines had been added to the list of products that cannot be exported from, or hoarded in, the UK in a bid to ensure adequate supply remains available to patients.