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October 2019

Ban on exporting HRT products, pharmacists get new powers

The Government has confirmed new restrictions on the export of all variations of HRT products, some of which currently face supply shortages due to manufacturing issues.

The Government has also introduced serious shortage protocols for the antidepressant fluoxetine, to further protect UK patients from medicine shortages. This means pharmacists can supply an alternative strength or pharmaceutical form of fluoxetine when patients have a prescription for the 10mg, 30mg and 40mg capsules, which are currently in shortage, without referring back to the original prescriber.

The export restrictions will stop some medicine wholesalers from ‘parallel exporting’. This is when companies buy medicines meant for UK patients and sell them on for a higher price in another country, potentially causing supply problems.

Around 360,000 prescriptions of HRT are dispensed a month to relieve symptoms of the menopause. Currently, some HRT drugs are being parallel exported. The new restrictions will end this practice to ensure people can still access the medicines they need.

Nineteen HRT drugs will be subject to export restrictions to ensure that alternatives remain available for the HRT drugs that are in short supply. Similar measures are in place in other European countries, including France and Spain.

New restrictions for a further five medicines, including all adrenaline auto-injectors and hepatitis B vaccines, have also come into force to protect supplies of these products.