Options During the Oestrogen Patch Shortage

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The ongoing oestrogen patch shortage continues to affect many women, and of late has caused particular difficulty, with many women not able to get oestrogen patches of any brand at their local pharmacies.  

The type of oestrogen in modern Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT, formerly known as HRT) whether the patch, gel or tablet is Oestradiol. We urgently need topical Oestradiol gels to become fully funded and widely stocked throughout pharmacies in Aotearoa, New Zealand. In the meantime, we have the below suggestions during the oestrogen patch shortage.

1. Talk to your doctor about whether funded oestrogen tablets (Progynova or other brand of 1 or 2mg oestradiol oral tablets) might be an option for you, in the short or longer term. 1-2mg oral Oestradiol is approximately equivalent to 50-100mcg of Oestradiol patches respectively. Oestrogen tablets may be a suitable alternative for people without significant risk factors for blood clots, vascular disease or liver issues. For people with migraines or high blood pressure the transdermal/skin (patch or topical gel) form of oestrogen is preferred.

2. Ask your doctor to write “Allow generic brand and strength substitution” on any prescriptions for oestrogen patches to allow your pharmacist to dispense patches of a different brand/strength if they have alternatives in stock to make up your usual dose.

3. If your local pharmacies have no oestrogen patches at all, enquire if they have Sandrena or Oestrogel oestrogen gels in stock, or if they might order some in (may take up to 3-8 weeks to order in), before getting a prescription for the available gel. Oestrogen gels (applied to the skin daily) are a good equivalent to patches but are not fully funded (usually between $30-80 per month; do confirm the price with the supplying pharmacy).

If you are not able to get oestrogen gel from your local pharmacy, Bays Health Pharmacy in Browns Bay, North Shore, Auckland, keeps oestrogen gels (both Sandrena and Oestrogel) in stock and may be able to courier some to you. Their shipping prices are $6 courier or $10 for rural.

Ascot Hospital pharmacy in Auckland also usually has some Sandrena gel in stock. Greenlane Clinical Centre Pharmacy (may have a shorter order-in time of 1-2 days) and Unichem Karaka in Auckland can also order in oestrogen gels on request with a prescription. If you know of any other pharmacies that stock or order oestrogen gels, feel free to share these in the comments below. Overall, times to order in and pricing can vary, so do check this with the pharmacy.

Dose-equivalent information on oestrogen gels for prescribers can be found on the Australasian Menopause Society website:

for New Zealand

for Australia

There is also a helpful summary of transdermal gel dosages in this pamphlet about oestrogen shortages by www.female.gp.co.nz

We urgently need more MHT options for women.  We acknowledge the mahi  (work) of all our local and international colleagues in this space in continuing to address this important issue. The lack of funding for oestrogen gels is an example of an equity of access issue that we need to address locally and internationally.  

For more updates from us, and to help us raise awareness around issues relating to hormone-related health and  equity of access of safe and effective hormonal therapies, feel free to share this article and the link to our educational website erhassociates.co.nz, subscribe to our newsletter from the website and follow us on social media (@erhassociatesnz on Instagram, Linkedin and Facebook).   

We do not have funded affiliations with manufacturers or distributors of any of the oestrogen tablets patches or gels mentioned here. The products and pharmacies mentioned in this article are simply to provide information on available options.

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