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Women who risk their health to get HRT in the midst of deficiency, warns UK chief medical officer | Menopause

The supply crisis with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) needs to be resolved quickly because “so many women” are experiencing distress and some are at risk of serious side effects from using medicines prescribed for others, the UK’s lead GP has warned.

There has been an acute shortage of some HRT products used by around 1 million women in the UK to treat menopausal symptoms. Some women have approached the black market or met other women in parking lots to buy, exchange or share medicine.

Prof Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, told the Guardian that immediate action was needed to resolve the crisis. “The college is concerned about seeing supply problems around the delivery of HRT, and we understand the distress this is causing for so many women,” he said. “It is really important that it is resolved as soon as possible.

“We hear that the supply issue is specific to England, as there has been a huge increase in the demand for estrogen, especially transdermally, we use. There is not the same problem with the supply of some of the other oral preparations, which is appropriate for many women in the UK and provides good symptom relief. “

Thousands of GPs across the country are being briefed on what products are available to enable them to help women who may need to be prescribed a replacement, Marshall said.

But he also raised concerns about women sharing HRT products with others struggling to get medication as a result of supply problems. “While we appreciate the seriousness of the current situation and the frustrations women are experiencing, we urge them not to share HRT medication as this can lead to serious side effects.”

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The Guardian revealed on Monday that supply shortages have been so severe that some women have been forced to travel hundreds of kilometers in search of HRT products.

Health experts are increasingly concerned about the growing impact of the problem on women’s physical and mental health.

“The impact HRT deficiency has on so many women can and should not be underestimated,” said Dr. Martin Kinsella, a hormone expert. “I have heard of women buying HRT on the black market and thus putting their own safety at risk, and some whose mental health as well as physical health has suffered tremendously because of this deficiency.”

Dee Murray, CEO and founder of the Menopause Experts group, said: “HRT deficiency causes stress and potential harm to women, with some being pressured to take matters into their own hands and look for supplies online. This can have a devastating effect. on their health, as HRT should only be prescribed by qualified physicians who understand the patient’s history. “

Sajid Javid has been urged to change the law to allow pharmacists to change prescriptions during drug shortages. Claire Anderson, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, told the Guardian that pharmacists should be able to dispense replacement versions of prescription drugs without having to contact the prescribing physician – typically a general practitioner – each time. Currently, the law in England stipulates that they must only give the exact prescription.

Javid, the health secretary, has said he was “determined” to resolve the crisis and intends to use the experience of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, as well as appoint an HRT supply tsar.

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