The hunt for HRT: ‘New gold rush’ warnings as women are trawling pharmacies in race to secure meds

The hunt for HRT: ‘New gold rush’ warnings as campaigners say women are trawling through pharmacies in race to secure medication amid drugs shortage

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy stocks are dwindling in pharmacies across UK
  • Shortages have forced women to spend hours hunting at different sites for it
  • Oestrogel, used by around 30,000 women in the UK, is the most sought after
  • Shortages have been liked to World War 2 home front rationing situation

Campaigners have warned of a HRT ‘gold rush’ as ​​women race to pharmacies to get their hands on dwindling stock.

Shortages have been so severe that some women have been forced to spend hours visiting different pharmacies in search of it.

The main issue is with Oestrogel, which is used by around 30,000 women in the UK. Alternatives have also taken a hit as women are switched to different medication until stocks are replenished.

Facebook menopause support groups have been flooded with women tipping each other off, with ‘Quick, try here’ messages being shared.

Others have liked it to the home front in the Second World War, when families would tip each other off when rations were restocked.

Davina McCall is backing a campaign to bring forward the date for cheaper HRT medicine for women

(left to right) Dr Louise Newson, Mariella Frostrup, MP Carolyn Harris, Penny Lancaster and Davina McCall with protesters outside the Houses of Parliament in London demonstrating against ongoing prescription charges for HRT

(left to right) Dr Louise Newson, Mariella Frostrup, MP Carolyn Harris, Penny Lancaster and Davina McCall with protesters outside the Houses of Parliament in London demonstrating against ongoing prescription charges for HRT

File photo of a woman taking HRT.  Shortages have been so severe that some women have been forced to spend hours visiting different pharmacies in search of it

File photo of a woman taking HRT. Shortages have been so severe that some women have been forced to spend hours visiting different pharmacies in search of it

Oestrogel, which is used by around 30,000 women in the UK, has been in short supply lately, leading to a HRT 'gold rush' as ​​women race to pharmacies to get their hands on dwindling stock

Oestrogel, which is used by around 30,000 women in the UK, has been in short supply lately, leading to a HRT ‘gold rush’ as ​​women race to pharmacies to get their hands on dwindling stock

‘It’s just a terrible situation to be in, almost like a gold rush,’ said Katie Taylor, of menopause support group Latte Lounge.

‘Women in our FB group are panic buying, tipping each other off when they hear of any pharmacies who have stock of Oestrogel in place.

Some are saying they feel like they’ve won the lottery, others are offering to share their supplies.’ Jane Pangbourne of the HRT Truth Collective support group, said there is an ‘HRT frenzy’.

She said women were traveling across the country after ringing after pharmacy or getting tipped off by friends about where stock is available.

Davina backs campaign

Davina McCall is backing a campaign to bring forward the date for cheaper HRT medicine for women.

Last year Labor MP Carolyn Harris, co-chairman of the UK menopause taskforce, managed to get costs cut in England, saving women up to £200 a year. But this will not come into effect until April 2023.

Now, a petition by campaign group Menopause Mandate is calling for the Government to implement it sooner. Miss McCall, one of the group’s founders, said that it is ‘insane’ women are ‘scrabbling about on the internet’ and easing HRT costs is needed urgently.

She added: ‘There was somebody in the group the other day who had traveled four or five hours to get her gel.

‘And even when women manage to get, let’s say, a month’s supply of whatever it is they need, they’re then already starting to plan: “What the hell do I do for next month?”

‘So the stress doesn’t end the moment they get their prescription – if they get their prescription at all.’

Elizabeth Carr-Ellis, a menopause campaigner and blogger, said desperate women are relying on one another for support and advice.

‘Women in Facebook groups have turned into mini support centres, telling each other where they’ve got Oestrogel from and if they had any left,’ she said.

‘It reminds me of my mum talking about the war – when women would pass on where the latest ration supplies had come in.’

The Daily Mail this week revealed a postcode lottery in England for alternative treatments, following extensive coverage of supply chain issues going back years.

A spokesman for Well Pharmacy, which has nearly 800 branches, said: ‘Some of our pharmacy teams have seen an increased number of requests from new patients looking for specific HRT products.’

The UK’s most senior GP has warned the HRT supply crisis must be resolved quickly because ‘so many women’ are experiencing distress and some are risking side-effects by using medication prescribed to others.

Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, told the Guardian: ‘While we appreciate the seriousness of the current situation and the frustrations women are experiencing, we urge them not to share HRT medication as this could lead to serious side- effects.’

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