HRT supply: what should I do if I can’t get my usual prescription
balance’s guide on what to do in the event of HRT supply issues
As the first line treatment for perimenopause and menopause symptoms, HRT is used by hundreds of thousands of women in the UK .
So when supply issues occur, it can understandably feel frustrating and unsettling.
Concerns around HRT supply were particularly acute in 2022, when it became more difficult to get hold of some products, particularly estrogen gel and some skin patches.
This was due to a number of factors, including a large rise in the number of women taking HRT: around 15% of women aged 45 to 64 in England are currently prescribed HRT, which has increased rapidly in the last two years from around 11% and continues to increase. .
While the situation is fortunately much better now, the occasional supply issue still crops up for a particular type of HRT.
Here is balance’s guide to help you avoid any issues if your usual prescription items are not readily available.
RELATED: Help – I’ve forgotten to take my HRT!
Leave enough time to order your HRT repeat prescription
Stockpiling your HRT isn’t the answer, as this may help fuel shortages, but make sure you leave sufficient time when ordering your repeat prescription.
Hayley Berry, pharmacist with Newson Health, says that requesting a prescription when you have two or three weeks of supply left will give you time to sort out any problems if your normal product is not in stock.
Access more HRT-related content here
If you’re told there is an issue with your HRT product, don’t worry and don’t stop taking your current supply.
‘Remember that we have lots of different types and brands of HRT, so we can usually find a very similar product to the one that is hard to get hold of,’ says Ms Berry.
‘HRT is really important to women who use it but don’t panic, and don’t be tempted to borrow supplies from a friend as you may not get exactly the same thing.
‘Healthcare professionals will work to find a suitable alternative for you.’
If you there is a supply issue with your normal brand, balance has this really useful list where you can see the options for similar products.
For example, there are six different brands of estrogen-only patches, all of which come in a range of strengths.
‘It can be useful to look at this list, then you will know if there are any on there that you have tried in the past and didn’t get on with this,’ says Ms Berry.
‘This is useful information for the GP, pharmacist or nurse who is helping you with an alternative.’
RELATED: HRT prescription payment certificate: what you need to know
Supply of my usual HRT is low. Where should I turn to for help?
If you’re alerted to a supply issue, you will probably need to see your normal prescriber to sort out an alternative.
‘This could be your GP, prescribing nurse or, sometimes, your pharmacist,’ says Ms Berry.
In a small number of cases the government gives pharmacists special powers to allow them to substitute an item in low stock for another.
Currently serious shortage protocols are only in place for two HRT products, skin patch Estradot and gel Sandrena, and these are both due to be reviewed by the end of March.
There were 13 products in this category last year, when supplies were under particular strain.
The up-to-date list can be viewed here on the NHS Business Services Authority website.
‘Your prescriber will sort out a good alternative, and as long as you have left a bit of time before your supply runs out, there shouldn’t be a difficulty sourcing your new medication,’ Ms Berry says.
- NICE (2015), ‘Menopause: diagnosis and treatment’
- Department of Health and Social Care (2023), ‘Hundreds of thousands of women experiencing menopause symptoms to get cheaper HRT’