Around a million women in the UK use HRT to relieve the symptoms of the menopause.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), the British Menopause Society (BMS) and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health care (FSRH) are receiving multiple queries from women who are unable to access their hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products due to ongoing manufacturing and supply issues. Clinicians are also reporting that HRT is becoming increasingly difficult to prescribe.
Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
“We are very concerned that thousands of women are struggling to get their HRT prescriptions, or even prescriptions for alternative treatments. HRT is essential for many women to ensure that they are able to continue to lead a high quality life.
“Although we have been told that some of the supply issues are temporary, others are not and are negatively affecting the treatment and care that clinicians can provide to their patients. Most importantly, it means that some women are having to find alternative products or even go without.
“While we understand the Department of Health and Social Care is working with suppliers of HRT medicines, we remain concerned that there will be an overall shortage of treatments for women who need this medication. We are arranging a meeting with DHSC as a matter of urgency to discuss how we can resolve this issue.
“There has been a generation of women who lost the opportunity of improved quality of life during their menopausal years due to myths about the safety of HRT. As those myths are quashed, we need to ensure that women have access to the medication that they need when they need it.”
Mr Haitham Hamoda, a consultant gynaecologist and Chair of the British Menopause Society, said:
‘’As an initial step we need to offer help and advice to women who are having difficulty getting supplies of their HRT preparations, regarding what suitable HRT alternatives they can use. 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.
"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. It remains unclear why there is a shortage of the treatments in the first place or when the normal supply of the products might resume. We are seeking further information and clarification as to when the matter will be resolved from the industry.
"We are keeping our website updated on what treatments are available based on information from the manufacturers, but we need to work in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care and industry to ensure this information is kept up-to-date and timelines are put in place to resolve this issue“.
“Supplies of alternative HRT products are available and women affected should discuss alternatives with their doctor.
Dr Asha Kasliwal, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, said:
“Every week in my clinic I see women who are affected by the shortage in HRT treatment.
“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.
“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.”
Notes to editors:
For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on 020 7045 6773 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Out of hours our duty press office can be contacted on 07986 183167
Please see the British Menopause Society’s latest update on HRT shortages and alternative products.
Prescribers can find suitable alternatives using the MIMS HRT comparison table.
The Primary Care Women’s Health Forum has produced an easy HRT prescribing guide for GPs and other prescribers, which provides advice on prescribing HRT based on current guidelines and best practice.
For confidential advice by telephone or email, contact Women’s Health Concern, the patient arm of the BMS.
Visit the RCOG’s menopause hub for more information.