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National shortage of HRT medication due to high demand

Published on 25/04/22 at 09:42am

The national shortage of HRT products could have an impact on some women, who may not be able to sleep or work efficiently due to the symptoms of menopause.

HRT offers ease of use, and can help with the symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes, low mood, and anxiety. It is available as oral or transdermal preparations, depending on the user’s preferences.

In October 2021, the Government announced plans to lower prescription costs for HRT in England, meaning that women will be able to pay £18.70 once a year, saving up to £200 annually.

However, recent shortages have meant that many women may not be able to access the care they need. HRT has significantly grown in popularity, and prescriptions have more than doubled in England since 2017. About 583,000 prescriptions were made in December 2021 alone, across all NHS GP practices in England.   

The British Menopause Society advises women who are experiencing difficulty obtaining oestrogen gel to consider other HRT preparations, even if they are not the exact same product.

Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in England, Thorrun Govind, said: "Women experiencing the menopause need support to stay well and remain in the workplace. For some, HRT prescriptions are an essential part of this, but also a financial drain during a cost-of-living crisis.

"We believe everyone should have access to the medicines they need, regardless of ability to pay, and will continue to call on the Government to scrap prescription charges in England altogether."

A Labour MP has attributed the acute lack of menopause medication to ‘bad planning’, and that Health Secretary Sajid Javid should tackle this himself rather than appoint a tsar.

Lina Adams

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