Norfolk among first places in country to stock new HRT product

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Published: 3:36 PM May 2, 2022

Norfolk is one of only three places nationwide where pharmacists are able to supply a sought after hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drug, it has emerged.

Sajid David, health secretary, is under pressure from campaigners to push forward legislation to make it easier for all parts of the country to access supplies of Bijuve, a new treatment.

Tens of thousands of women have been left frustrated in recent months following supply issues around forms of HRT, which is vital to treating menopause symptoms.

Some patients have been faced with months of waiting for their prescriptions, as pharmacists scramble to get hold of the much-needed treatment.

But women in Norfolk have at least one option, after commissioners moved swiftly to approve a recently-discovered alternative to HRT gels.

Bijuve, produced by pharmaceutical company Theramex, has been produced as another option for people in need of the treatment and was first released in September 2021.

But currently, it has only been approved for prescription by three commissioning groups nationwide – Somerset, Oxford and Norfolk and Waveney.

The product is the first and only ‘body-identical’ hormone therapy treatment for estrogen deficiency symptoms.

It was approved for use by the Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group’s therapeutic advisory group in November.

Dr Paula Briggs, incoming Chair of the British Menopause Society, said, “We know women can be concerned about taking hormones and the impact they may have on their health beyond treating menopause symptoms.

“The availability of a body-identical progesterone which is well tolerated and has a lower risk profile than oral synthetic progestogens, combined with estradiol in a single capsule, is great news for women.

“As a healthcare community we should encourage our patients to reconsider the benefits of newer therapeutic options, allowing them to make informed choices.”

It comes amid calls for red tape to be eased around supply of the new treatment.

Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who co-chairs the UK menopause taskforce, said: “A product has to go through all the regulatory committees and then it goes to the local formulary.

“They decide to pass it and it gets put on medication lists in a certain area.

“Theramex, for example, have got a really good alterative product to the gel. They’ve got warehouses full of it, but only two areas where the CCGs have done the formulary procedure and it’s available.”