Consumer Medicine Information
What is in this leaflet
This leaflet answers some common questions about the menopause ("change of life"), hormone replacement therapy and Estraderm.It does not contain all the available information. It does not take the place of talking to your doctor or pharmacist.All medicines have risks and benefits. Your doctor has weighed the risks of you using this medicine against the benefits they expect it will provide.If you have any concerns about this medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Keep this leaflet with the medicine. You may need to read it again.
What Estraderm is used for
Estraderm is a type of treatment called hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It is a stick-on patch that contains a hormone called oestradiol.Estraderm is used for the short-term relief of symptoms of the menopause. It can also be used to prevent thinning of the bones in women with an increased risk of fractures due to osteoporosis who cannot use other treatments.HRT should not be used for the long-term maintenance of general health or to prevent heart disease. It is not suitable for birth control and it will not restore fertility.How it works
Oestradiol is a natural female sex hormone called an oestrogen. It is the same hormone that your ovaries were producing before the menopause.The menopause occurs naturally in the course of a woman's life, usually between the ages of 45 and 55. It may happen sooner if the ovaries are removed by surgery (e.g. total hysterectomy). After menopause, your body produces much less oestrogen than it did before. This can cause unpleasant symptoms such as a feeling of warmth in the face, neck and chest, "hot flushes" (sudden, intense feelings of heat and sweating throughout the body), sleep problems, irritability and depression. Some women also have problems with urine control or with dryness of the vagina causing discomfort during or after sex. Oestrogens can be given to reduce or eliminate these symptoms.After the age of 40, and especially after the menopause, some women develop osteoporosis. This is a thinning of the bones that makes them weaker and more likely to break, especially the bones of the spine, hip and wrist. The risk of osteoporosis is increased by lack of oestrogen. Oestrogens can be given to reduce this risk if other treatments are not suitable.Estraderm releases oestradiol in a continuous and controlled way just as your ovaries were doing before. Because the medicine does not have to pass through your stomach and liver, it allows you to take a much lower dose of oestrogen than would be needed in a tablet and helps to avoid some unpleasant side effects.Ask your doctor if you have any questions about why this medicine has been prescribed for you.
Your doctor may have prescribed it for another purpose.
This medicine is available only with a doctor's prescription. It is not habit-forming.
Before you use Estraderm
When you must not use it
Do not use Estraderm if you have an allergy to:
oestradiol, the active ingredient, or to any of the other ingredients listed at the end of this leaflet
any other medicine containing oestrogen, including the birth control pill
Some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction may include shortness of breath, wheezing or difficulty breathing; swelling of the face, lips, tongue or other parts of the body; rash, itching or hives on the skin.If you had a severe skin reaction in the past, you could have a very serious reaction if you use any type of oestrogen (patch, tablet, cream, etc.) again in the future.Do not use Estraderm if you have:
cancer of the breast or uterus (womb) or any other oestrogen dependent cancer, or you have had this condition in the past
blood clots in your blood vessels, now or in the past. You may have had painful inflammation of the veins or blockage of a blood vessel in the legs, lungs, brain or heart
a condition that increases the tendency for you to get blood clots
endometriosis (a disorder of the uterus that may cause painful periods and abnormal bleeding)
abnormal vaginal bleeding that has not been investigated
severe liver disease
a condition called porphyria
If you are not sure whether any of the above conditions apply to you, your doctor can advise you.Do not use Estraderm if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. It may affect your baby.
If you still have a uterus (womb), do not use Estraderm unless you are also taking another medicine called a progestogen. Women who still have a uterus must take both oestrogen and progestogen as part of HRT. This is because oestrogen stimulates the growth of the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium). Before menopause this lining is removed during your period through the action of a natural progestogen. After menopause, taking oestrogen on its own as HRT may lead to irregular bleeding and to a disorder called endometrial hyperplasia. Your doctor will prescribe a progestogen to protect the lining of the uterus from the effects of oestrogen.
Do not use this medicine after the expiry date printed on the pack or if the packaging is torn or shows signs of tampering. In that case, return it to your pharmacist.
Before you start to use it
Tell your doctor if you have:
a family history of breast cancer
nodules, lumps or cysts in your breasts or any other benign breast condition (not cancer)
fibroids or other benign tumours of the uterus (not cancer)
had one or more pregnancies where you lost the baby before birth
high blood pressure
kidney or liver problems
migraine or other severe headaches
gall bladder disease
a high level of triglycerides in the blood
had a problem in the past with jaundice (a liver problem) or itching skin when you took an oestrogen (e.g. the birth control pill or HRT)
a skin condition that could be made worse by applying the patch
Your doctor may want to take special precautions if you have any of the above conditions.Tell your doctor if you are likely to have an increased risk of developing blood clots in your blood vessels. The risk increases as you get older and it may also be increased if:
anyone in your immediate family has ever had blood clots in the blood vessels of the legs or lungs
you are overweight
you have varicose veins
you have a disorder called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
Taking other medicines
Tell your doctor if you are taking birth control pills. Estraderm is not a contraceptive. Since pregnancy may be possible early in the menopause while you are still having menstrual periods, you should ask your doctor to suggest another (non-hormonal) method of birth control.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including medicines that you buy without a prescription from a pharmacy, supermarket or health food shop. Some medicines and Estraderm may interfere with each other. These include:
herbal medicines containing St. John's wort
some medicines to help you sleep, including barbiturates and meprobamate
some medicines for epilepsy, including phenytoin and carbamazepine
phenylbutazone, a medicine for pain and inflammation
some antibiotics and other anti-infective medicines, including rifampicin, rifabutin, nevirapine, efavirenz, ritonavir and nelfinavir
You may need to take different amounts of your medicines or to take different medicines while you are using Estraderm. Your doctor and pharmacist have more information.If you have not told your doctor about any of these things, tell him/her before you start using this medicine.
How to use Estraderm
Follow all directions given to you by your doctor and pharmacist carefully. These instructions may differ from the information contained in this leaflet.
If you do not understand the instructions on the label, ask your doctor or pharmacist for help.
When to start it
If you are not already using HRT, you can start Estraderm at a convenient time for you. If you are already using a different type of HRT, your doctor can advise you when to switch to Estraderm.How much to use
The patches come in three strengths. To reduce symptoms of the menopause, you will usually start with the Estraderm 50 patch. Your doctor will check your progress and may change you to a lower or higher strength, depending on your response to treatment. To prevent thinning of the bones, Estraderm 50 or 100 are suitable.How to use it
A leaflet in the carton contains pictures and information on how to apply the patch properly.You will usually have a patch on all the time. You will apply a new patch twice weekly (every 3 or 4 days). There are 8 patches in the carton, enough for a 4-week cycle.Estraderm can also be used in cycles of 3 weeks of patches and then 1 week with no treatment. Your doctor will advise you on the method that is best for you.If you have not had a hysterectomy (operation to remove the uterus), you must take another type of hormone called a progestogen as well as using the patches. A progestogen helps to protect the lining of the uterus. If you have not been asked to take a progestogen, talk to your doctor.How long to use it
If you want to continue using HRT for longer than a few months, discuss the possible risks and benefits with your doctor. You may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, blood clots on the lungs and dementia. On the other hand, the risk of hip fractures and bowel cancer may be reduced. If you have had a hysterectomy but still have your ovaries, there may also be a small increase in the risk of developing cancer of the ovaries. Your doctor can discuss these risks and benefits with you, taking into account your particular circumstances.
If you forget to use it
Apply a new patch as soon as you remember, and then go back to your usual schedule.
If you have trouble remembering when to use or replace your patches, ask your pharmacist for some hints.
If you use too much (Overdose)
Immediately telephone your doctor or Poisons Information Centre (telephone 13 11 26) or go to Accident and Emergency at your nearest hospital, if you think that an overdose has happened. Keep the telephone numbers for these places handy.
Because of the way this medicine is used, an intentional overdose is unlikely. Swallowing a patch may cause nausea and vomiting.
While you are using Estraderm
Things you must do
If you become pregnant while using Estraderm, tell your doctor immediately. It should not be used while you are pregnant.
See your doctor at least once a year for a check-up. Some women will need to go more often. Your doctor will:
check your breasts and order a mammogram at regular intervals
check your uterus and cervix and do a pap smear at regular intervals
check your blood pressure and cholesterol level.
Check your breasts each month and report any changes promptly to your doctor. Your doctor or nurse can show you how to check your breasts properly.
Tell your doctor that you are using Estraderm well in advance of any expected hospitalisation or surgery. If you go to hospital unexpectedly, tell the doctor who admits you that you are using it. The risk of developing blood clots in your blood vessels may be temporarily increased as a result of an operation, serious injury or having to stay in bed for a prolonged period. If possible, this medicine should be stopped at least 4 weeks before surgery and it should not be restarted until you are fully mobile.
If you are about to be started on any new medicine, remind your doctor and pharmacist that you are using Estraderm.
Tell any other doctor, dentist or pharmacist who treats you that you are using Estraderm.
Things you must not do
Do not use this medicine to treat any other complaints unless your doctor tells you to.
Do not give it to anyone else, even if their symptoms seem similar to yours.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible if you do not feel well while you are using Estraderm. All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not. You may need medical treatment if you get some of the side effects.
Do not be alarmed by these lists of possible side effects. You may not experience any of them. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to answer any questions you may have.
Tell your doctor immediately or go to Accident and Emergency at your nearest hospital if you notice any of the following:
signs of allergy such as rash, itching or hives on the skin; swelling of the face, lips, tongue or other part of the body; shortness of breath, wheezing or troubled breathing
signs that blood clots may have formed, such as sudden severe headache, sudden loss of coordination, blurred vision or sudden loss of vision, slurred speech, numbness or tingling in an arm or leg, painful swelling in the calves or thighs, chest pain, difficulty breathing, coughing blood
pain or tenderness in the abdomen, which may be accompanied by fever, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
a yellow colour to the skin or eyes, itching, dark coloured urine or light coloured bowel motions.
Tell your doctor if you notice any of the following and they worry you:
irregular vaginal bleeding or spotting (if bleeding is heavy, check with your doctor as soon as possible)
tender, painful or swollen breasts
redness, irritation or itching under the patch
itching or inflammation of the vagina
pain during sex or when urinating (passing water)
palpitations (feeling of fast or irregular heartbeat)
swelling of the lower legs, ankles, fingers or abdomen due to fluid retention
nausea (feeling sick), abdominal cramps, bloating
rise in blood pressure
tiredness, nervousness, irritability, depression
muscle or nerve pain, leg pain
worsening of varicose veins
ringing in the ears
changes in weight
reversible skin discolouration
Tell your doctor if you notice anything else that is making you feel unwell. Some people may have other side effects not yet known or mentioned in this leaflet. Some side effects can only be found when laboratory tests are done.
After using Estraderm
Keep your medicine in the original container until it is time to use it.
Store it in a cool dry place.
Do not store Estraderm or any other medicine in the bathroom or near a sink.
Do not leave it in the car or on window sills.
Keep the patches where young children cannot reach them. A locked cupboard at least 1½ metres above the ground is a good place to store medicines.
Fold used patches in half with the sticky side inwards. Dispose of them where children cannot reach them. Used patches still contain some oestradiol which could harm a child.
If your doctor tells you to stop using this medicine or the expiry date has passed, ask your pharmacist what to do with any patches that are left over.
What it looks like
Estraderm patches come in three strengths: 25, 50 and 100. They are round or oblong transparent patches sealed in individual pouches. Each carton contains 8 patches (enough for 4 weeks of treatment).
Estraderm 25 patches are marked CG DWD
Estraderm 50 patches are marked CG EFE
Estraderm 100 patches are marked CG FBF.
Estraderm patches are made up of five layers:
a waterproof transparent backing film
a drug reservoir containing the active ingredient, oestradiol
a membrane which controls the release of oestradiol into the skin
an adhesive (sticky) layer
a protective liner (to be removed before use)
Estraderm patches release approximately 25, 50 or 100 micrograms oestradiol in 24 hours.The following inactive ingredients are also used to make the patch:
silicone coating on the release liner
Estraderm is supplied in Australia by:
NOVARTIS Pharmaceuticals Australia Pty Limited
ACN 004 244 160
54 Waterloo Road
North Ryde NSW 2113
Telephone: 1 800 671 203
Web site: www.novartis.com.au
This leaflet was prepared in December 2003
(est111203c.doc) based on PI (est111203i.doc)
Australian Registration Number:
Estraderm 25 AUST R 9972
Estraderm 50 AUST R 9971
Estraderm 100 AUST R 9970