NI pharmacists to be allowed to make HRT treatment swaps

NI pharmacists to be allowed to make HRT treatment swaps

Pharmacists in Northern Ireland are to be granted temporary powers to allow them to make swaps to women’s hormone replacement therapy prescriptions.

The move is intended to help address the ongoing shortage of some products, which is an issue across the UK.

Women are regularly told that their HRT products are not available, while substitutes sometimes are.

Pharmacists cannot swap medication without a fresh prescription, which can take some time.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Robin Swann said he was addressing the problem by approving additional protocols which would allow pharmacists to safely issue appropriate substitute HRT medicines.

The government said it had been looking at a variety of ways to improve supply quickly after it heard how women were experiencing distressing symptoms because they were unable to get their choice of medication.

Mr Swann said women’s health was a priority and that it was imperative women had access to hormone replacement products that were safe and effective.

“Today I have approved a number of serious shortage protocols which will allow pharmacists the flexibility to safely offer women appropriate substitutes for HRT products that are currently in short supply,” he said.

“I will continue to work with my UK counterparts to ensure the long-term stability of supply for HRT products going forward.”

Alternative products will be available for Oestrogel, Ovestin cream, Lenzetto transdermal spray and Sandrena gel sachets.

Chief pharmaceutical officer Cathy Harrison said community pharmacists were ideally placed to support women with their health needs.

“This is a safe, effective way to ensure HRT continues to be available for those women who need it to manage their menopausal symptoms,” she said.

“It is also a vote of confidence in the ability of pharmacy teams to effectively manage supply disruptions and maintain patient care.

“Anyone who has questions or concerns about HRT should speak to their GP or pharmacist.”