Swedish estrogen patch shortage until at least May

Last summer, there was a month-long shortage of estrogen patches for menopausal symptoms. Now the situation has become worse.

Estrogen patches are in short supply in most Swedish pharmacies.

Estrogen patches are in short supply in most Swedish pharmacies.

Foto: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Hälsa och sjukvård2023-02-01 14:39

The shortage involves transdermal estrogen medicines that are administered via the skin, i.e. patches, gels and sprays, and the shortage is described as "crippling and widespread", according to Läkartidningen, the magazine of the Swedish Medical Association.

In some cases, the person who has been prescribed estrogen via the skin can switch to a drug in tablet form. 

However, this is not suitable for everyone. Women who have had blood clots or liver damage and women who have undergone bariatric surgery cannot take tablets instead.

"It is not that someone will die if they do not receive treatment, but the quality of life is significantly affected,"  Natalia Cruz, doctor at Capio Gynecology in Solna, told Läkartidningen.

A healthy woman can use tablets instead of transdermal treatment. But then the patient must be followed up after three to six months to see if the tablets are working. It is not guaranteed that the woman will get the same effect from an equivalent dose of estradiol if the method of administration is changed.

The situation has led to many gynecologists being overwhelmed.

"There are a lot of people who turn to us. In outpatient care, we get 10 to 20 queries every day," says Natalia Cruz,

The manufacturer, Sandoz, expects the shortage of transdermal treatments to have eased by May.