Many women going through menopause use oestrogen patches, a menopausal hormone therapy/hormone replacement treatment (MHT/HRT) used to manage menopausal symptoms. Unfortunately, many of these products have been in short supply this year.
Jean Hailes for Women's Health featured in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in a story in April about the shortage of oestrogen patches. The shortage is still ongoing and the Department of Health says that many shortages will continue until mid-December.
With so many questions still being raised about the shortage, we asked Jean Hailes Medical Director Dr Elizabeth Farrell and Jean Hailes endocrinologist Dr Sonia Davison for some further advice.
If I use oestrogen patches such as Estradot (oestrogen only) and Estalis (combined oestrogen and progestogen), what does the shortage mean for me?
While these products are unavailable you might need to consider alternative MHT/HRT products.
How do I decide what alternative MHT/HRT I should use?
There are different options available, including a topical gel or substituting with another patch, but it's best to make an appointment and talk to your health professional to work out what's appropriate for you.
When are supplies expected to return to normal?
Novartis, a pharmaceutical company that supplies some oestrogen patches, officially updated its statement on the shortage this week:
Novartis and Sandoz continue to experience difficulties with supply of Estalis Continuous, Estalis Sequi and Estradot patches due to production problems faced by the overseas manufacturer. There are no issues related to the safety of this product.
At present we have been advised by the overseas manufacturer that stock is likely to become available in December 2017. However at this time we cannot confirm a date.
The overseas company that makes these products is not owned or operated by Novartis. As the cause of the problem is beyond Novartis' control, we cannot rule out the possibility of further disruptions in supply. We urge all patients to consider this possibility and consult their treating physician to discuss options for their ongoing treatment.
I'm a health practitioner, where can I find reliable information on MHT/HRT products?
- The Australasian Menopause Society has an excellent guide to equivalent MHT/HRT doses and should be consulted for further guidance as to other products that may be used.
- Jean Hailes has a Menopause health professional tool.
- Also refer to the Jean Hailes webinar for health professionals, Initiating menopausal hormone therapy/hormone replacement therapy.
- For further information on menopause management, download A Practitioner's Toolkit for the Management of the Menopause, developed by the Women's Health Research Program at Monash University.
Women and health professionals can also visit the Jean Hailes Menopause webpages to learn more about menopause and managing menopausal symptoms.