MENOPAUSE hormone therapy will be rationed for women once again as further shortages plague the supply chain.
Women across the country have been forced to share the vital medicines while pharmacies struggle to get hold of the treatment.
Utrogestan is expected to be in intermittent supply until late 2023[/caption]
The Government has confirmed a national shortage of Utrogestan 100mg capsules (testosterone) – a type of progesterone that the majority of women on HRT take alongside oestrogen.
Supply of the popular medicine is expected to be in intermittent supply until late 2023, officials said.
The drug has been rationed until August to ensure women get “continued access”, the Department of Health said.
The rationing order, known as a serious shortage protocol (SSP), means women will be able to get a maximum of two months’ supply of Utrogestan from their pharmacy.
Before the announcement, it emerged that sufferers have been resorting to sharing medicines with people abroad and visiting dozens of pharmacies to obtain any available treatment.
Women from across the UK have taken to social media to voice there concerns.
One seeking Utrogestan said a “kind lady from Ireland” had shipped some of her spare tablets – despite this being illegal.
Another said all pharmacies in Hampshire and Dorset were “out of stock”.
Her pharmacist told her that desperate women were “phoning from miles away”.
A woman from Stroud, Gloucestershire, who had gone three weeks without the medicine, drove to pharmacies in Cheltenham and Gloucester on the hunt for Utrogestan.
Another, who couldn’t get hold of the medicine, feared she wouldn’t be able to go into work.
“If anyone can advise me where I can get hold of Utrogestan I would really appreciate it,” she said.
“Taking HRT means I can function and go to work.”
Around two million women use HRT to help alleviate symptoms associated with the menopause, including hot flushes, fatigue, anxiety and brain fog.
Last year, women were forced to buy HRT on the black market as UK-wide shortages hit.
Certain products have been going out of stock since 2018 due to problems in the supply chain and manufacturing, heightened by the pandemic and increased demand.
Maria Caulfield, minister for the women’s health strategy, 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 industry is responding to the growth in demand and our continued calls for action to boost supply to meet it.”
Of the 22 SSPs issued for HRT products since last April, only two are still remain– one for Progynova patches and now for Utrogestan 100mg capsules.
Supply disruptions with most products experiencing shortages have been resolved, the Government said.
Utrogestan manufacturer Besins has been approached for comment.