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International, National, News

Hormone replacement therapy and contraception shortage hits Australia

A global shortage of contraceptive and hormone replacement therapy medications has hit Australia, with estradiol pills and patches in limited supply.

The shortage was reported in the UK as long ago as last August and is now a worldwide issue.

No clear explanation has been provided for the supply issues, which are apparently not related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but have been attributed by distributors simply to “manufacturing”.

The Guardian has reported shortages in Australia of the estradiol medications Estradot, Estalis Sequi, Climara, Angeliq, Norimin, Triphasil, and Brevinor.

The medications are used for contraception and menopausal hormone replacement by people with ovaries.

In the UK, cis women using estradiol to treat menopause last year reported having to travel overseas to obtain their medications, or resorting to alternative therapies to manage their symptoms.

While estradiol is also used by many trans women as part of hormone replacement therapy, reports suggest the trans community in Australia has largely not been affected at this stage by the shortages.

Community group Trans Health Australia said that they have received no reports from members of difficulty in obtaining medication.

Members of the Facebook group reported that they have recently been able to buy Estradot without issue, though some pharmacies may be ordering supplies as needed rather than holding larger quantities in stock.

People using estradiol, other hormone therapies, or any other medication are urged not to panic buy, as there appears to be no need to stockpile supplies.

A spokesperson for manufacturer Pfizer said that providing a consistent medication supply was a priority for the company, and urged anyone affected by the shortages to speak to their pharmacist and doctor about possible solutions.

Distributors have advised that production has been increased and the global supply is set to return to normal soon, with more stocks of Estradot expected to be sent to pharmacies in September, and other medications as soon as this month.

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