HRT medication out of stock in Ireland due to 'increased global demand'

HRT medication out of stock in Ireland due to 'increased global demand'

A spokeswoman for Novartis in Ireland said there have been intermittent global supply challenges for all HRT companies, 'driven by increased awareness of the benefits of HRT in menopause'. Picture: Jim Coughlan

The pharmaceutical company making two hormone replacement therapy/rl]u[ (HRT) products that have been out of stock in Ireland since February has blamed increased demand for the shortages.

The Estradot transdermal patches, in 37.5mcg size and 50mcg size, manufactured by Novartis, continue to be out of stock in Ireland. 

Other HRT products from Novartis were restored to pharmacies earlier this year. 

The Irish Examiner reported that women were travelling to pharmacies in Northern Ireland to source the products.

A spokeswoman for Novartis in Ireland said there have been intermittent global supply challenges for all HRT companies.

“There has been a significant increase in global demand for HRT products, driven by increased awareness of the benefits of HRT in menopause,” she said.

We have significantly increased supplies of our HRT medication into Ireland on a number of occasions, to reflect the increased demand.” 

She said there was a “short-term supply challenge” with these two products, but two other dosage sizes in this range were available.

“We are continually monitoring the situation so that we can ensure an adequate supply of our HRT medicine in Ireland,” she said.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority monitors medicine shortages and its website now indicates mid-October as the earliest re-stocking date.

Advice from the clinical lead for medicines management Professor Micheal Barry, shared on the website, is that women should discuss using alternatives with their caregiver. This could involve using two HRT medicinal products instead of one. 

Women using medical cards or the drug payment scheme are advised to check alternatives are covered. 

The advice says intermittent shortages have occurred since 2019 linked to manufacturing delays, availability of ingredients and, in recent years, increased demand.

“There is a lower risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) associated with the transdermal route of estradiol compared to the oral route,” the note says, referring to a substance contained in the out-of-stock products. 

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