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Advice from the HSE for patients taking tamoxifen

Tamoxifen is a medicine used in the treatment of breast cancer, and some other cancers. People take tamoxifen as a tablet, and get it on prescription from their pharmacist.

There is an international shortage of tamoxifen caused by manufacturing delays. This is not connected to Brexit. 

The HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme has worked with the HPRA and medicine suppliers to arrange an alternative supply of tamoxifen. This means patients can continue their treatment during this shortage. Patients might have to use a different brand of the drug.

Patients can check how this affects them by talking to their GP, pharmacist or hospital care team.

Advice for patients:

  • There are supplies of tamoxifen for patients in Ireland.
  • You will be able to continue your tamoxifen treatment. You may have to use a different brand of this medicine during the shortage.
  • This supply issue is expected to be resolved by December 2019.
  •  If you have a medical card, there will be no change in cost.
  • If you pay for your medicines the cost may increase. If you, or your family already spend more than €124 each month the Drugs Payment Scheme may cover the cost. Your pharmacist can advise you if you have queries about any extra costs.
  • If you are unable to get tamoxifen through your usual pharmacy, you may get a supply from another pharmacy, as they may have different suppliers.
  • Medical oncologists have recommended that if your usual brand is not available, you may have to use a different brand of this medicine for a limited time. If you have concerns please discuss this with your healthcare team at your next appointment.
  • Please do not stockpile tamoxifen as doing this may affect other patients.

 If you are taking tamoxifen and have any questions, or would like to check how this might affect you, please speak to your pharmacist, GP, or your hospital care team.