Sajid Javid in crisis talks over HRT shortages | Pharmaceuticals industry
The UK’s acute shortage of hormone replacement therapy products for menopausal women has prompted the health secretary to call a meeting with industry representatives and and the government’s new HRT supply tsar to discuss the crisis.
Manufacturers of HRT products and pharmacy representatives met Sajid Javid and the recently appointed HRT supply tsar, Madeleine McTernan, on Thursday to discuss the supply shortages. The meeting was expected to last about an hour.
Soaring demand for HRT products among British women going through menopause has led to months of supply shortages and stories of women struggling to sleep or work effectively after being unable to obtain their prescriptions.
Some describe the surge in demand as the “Davina effect” after a documentary fronted by the TV presenter – Davina McCall: Sex, Myths and the Menopause – that was broadcast on Channel 4 in May last year prompted thousands to seek prescriptions.
Javid has rationed supply, imposing “serious shortage protocols” on 29 April to limit the dispensing of Oestrogel, Ovestin cream and Premique Low Dose to three months’ supply per person to “even out” the distribution.
Millions of women go through the menopause each year, and many experience a range of symptoms, which can be severe, including anxiety, low mood, hot flushes and difficulties sleeping.
The government knew about the supply shortages as far back as October, according to Tina Backhouse, the UK manager for women’s health at Theramex, a pharmaceuticals firm. She told the Daily Telegraph she had alerted the Department of Health at the time but ministers were focused on dealing with the Covid pandemic.
Prescriptions for HRT have more than doubled in England over the past five years, according to NHS data.