Chair of the Royal College of GPs describes shortage as 'frustrating'
The UK is currently facing a national shortage of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), possibly leaving many menopausal women without treatment for their symptoms.
Roughly half of the most commonly prescribed forms of HRT are out of stock in pharmacies, including Boots and Lloyds.
The Department for Health and Social Care has said it is aware of “ongoing supply issues” regarding HRT, which it puts down to “manufacturing delays”.
A spokesperson for the department explained that alternative products are available and advised women seeking treatment to consult their doctors.
“Our priority is to ensure patients continue to access safe and effective medicines," they said.
“We are working closely with all suppliers to maintain overall flow of medicines to patients. Supplies of alternative HRT products are available and any patient affected should discuss alternatives with their doctor.”
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme that the reasons for the shortage are unclear.
“We know that there are the generic phrases like ‘supply issues’ and ‘manufacturing problems,’” she said.
“But because it’s commercially sensitive... nobody will be honest with the public and the NHS. So it’s frustrating.”
Stokes-Lampard added that it’s not known how long the shortage will continue for.
HRT medication comes in various forms, such as tablets, vaginal creams, skin patches and gels.
It is the most common form of treatment for symptoms of the menopause, which can include hot flushes, night sweats and mood changes, the NHS states.
HRT is “extremely effective at relieving menopausal symptoms,” the governing health body adds, although it is not suitable for all women, including those who have had some types of breast cancer.
You can read more about HRT here.