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Medical experts call for action over HRT patch shortages

Around a million women in the UK use HRT to relieve the symptoms of the menopause.

Supplies of HRT patches are running low (Lynne Cameron/PA)
Supplies of HRT patches are running low (Lynne Cameron/PA)

By Padraig Collins, PA

A shortage of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) patches used to treat menopausal symptoms is causing difficulties for thousands of women in the UK, medical experts have said.

Around a million women in the country use HRT to relieve the symptoms of the menopause.

In a joint statement, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), the British Menopause Society (BMS) and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) said they were receiving multiple queries from women unable to get HRT products due to ongoing manufacturing and supply issues.

HRT is essential for many women to ensure that they are able to continue to lead a high quality life Professor Lesley Regan

Doctors are also reporting that HRT is becoming difficult to prescribe due to the shortages.

“We are very concerned that thousands of women are struggling to get their HRT prescriptions, or even prescriptions for alternative treatments,” said Professor Lesley Regan, president of the RCOG.

“HRT is essential for many women to ensure that they are able to continue to lead a high quality life.”

Some women have reported on social media that they are bulk-buying supplies bought over the counter in Spain, while others are having them sent from as far away as South America.

Stocks of Evorel HRT patches, which are made by Belgian firm Janssen and have a UK market share of 40%, have particularly been hit by the shortages.

Janssen UK said: “We really do understand how difficult the UK HRT shortages are for patients and their health care professionals.

“We’ve provided the BMS with an updated supply list based on current demand.”

The crisis reportedly started in late 2018 when supply issues that began in China forced some manufacturers to stop production of the patches.

This led to raised demand for other brands which in turn became scarce.

Shortages are expected to continue until next year.

Haitham Hamoda, a consultant gynaecologist and chair of the BMS, said help and advice needs to be offered to women who are having difficulty getting supplies of their HRT medications.

“The British Menopause Society has advised prescribers to find equivalent types by looking at the oestrogen and progestogen component and matching it as closely as possible to another brand,” he said.

“Beyond this, we need to understand the reasons behind this and what measures could be taken to resolve this issue and to prevent it happening again in the future.”

We need to ensure that women are not disadvantaged further because of the shortage Dr Asha Kasliwal

Dr Asha Kasliwal, president of the FSRH, said she was treating women every week affected by the shortage.

“These women are not being able to receive the treatment that best suits their needs, leaving some women to cope with quite debilitating symptoms that directly impact on their daily lives,” she said.

“It is important that the Department of Health and Social Care continues to work with suppliers of HRT medicines.

“We need to ensure that women are not disadvantaged further because of the shortage, and that they access HRT treatment when they need it.”

PA

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