HRT shortage causes widespread anxiety among women

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Women across the UK are experiencing anxiety about accessing drugs as a result of a shortage of HRT (hormone replacement therapy).

Reports suggest that up to two-thirds of pharmacies are experiencing daily shortages of HRT medications due to a surge in the demand for treatment. The lack of drugs is causing concern among women who are having difficulty accessing supplies.

The health secretary stated that he was appointing a tsar to improve the situation as quickly as possible, but some MPs have suggested that there are faster ways to resolve problems and boost supplies. Sajid Javid acknowledged that there is a shortage of some HRT drugs, including oestrogen gel, due to exceptionally high demand. 

Representatives from Besins Healthcare, an Oestrogel manufacturer, said that the company is doubling supplies to cope with increased demand for HRT. Hormone replacement therapy can help to reduce the severity of menopause symptoms, including hot flushes, anxiety, insomnia and low mood. 
The subject of the menopause has become a talking point in recent years due to increased media exposure and campaigns fronted by celebrities, including Davina McCall, who called for prescription costs for HRT to be lowered to support women who experience symptoms. 

Since 2017, the number of prescriptions for HRT has more than doubled. In December 2021 alone, 583,000 prescriptions were written by GPs in England. 

GP, Dr Nighat Arif, told the BBC that it has been hard to get hold of supplies, including Oestrogel. There are alternatives that are available, which Dr Arif is prescribing for patients, but shortages are affecting patients, who feel anxious about the situation. In many cases, Oestrogel can have a positive impact and for some women, it can be life-changing. 

The HRT shortage is affecting pharmacies all over the UK and some women have reported sharing drugs with friends and family to prevent people from having to go without while stocks are low. The government has pledged to address the situation and Mr Javid has outlined plans to make sure there are sufficient supplies to cope with rising demand. The health secretary said that lessons can be learned from the Covid vaccine rollout, which progressed at pace.