Short­age forces des­per­ate women to seek menopause treat­ment from abroad

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Eleanor Hayward Health Re­porter Turn to Page 6

WOMEN have been forced into buy­ing HRT med­i­ca­tion from abroad as it is now al­most im­pos­si­ble to get in Bri­tain.

Short­ages have been go­ing on for months but reached ‘cri­sis point’ this week as most evorel patches – the UK mar­ket leader – dis­ap­peared from the shelves. Many al­ter­na­tives were al­ready out of stock and the two main phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal whole­salers have com­pletely run out of all com­monly-pre­scribed HrT patches, ac­cord­ing to an au­dit seen by the Daily Mail.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers are ra­tioning what lit­tle stock they have with the sup­port of the Depart­ment of Health, which has been slammed for its ‘dis­as­trous’ han­dling of the cri­sis. Some women have been buy­ing boxes for their friends from phar­ma­cies while on hol­i­day in Spain. One patient has even been air-freight­ing HrT from South africa.

around two-thirds of HrT treat­ments have been hit by short­ages. They in­clude evorel and elleste, the two most pop­u­lar brands, which are pre­scribed to up­wards of 100,000

women a year – more than half of those on the treat­ment. HRT is ad­min­is­tered as patches, pills or gels and pro­vides the oe­stro­gen that the body stops pro­duc­ing dur­ing menopause. Sev­eral HRT tablets are also out of stock.

Dr Anne Hen­der­son, an NHS consultant gy­nae­col­o­gist who runs a menopause - clinic, said: ‘It is now im­pos­si­ble e to get patches – it is vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble e to run a clinic. I have been do­ing HRT for r 30 years and I have never come across s such an ut­ter mess. For the first time e ever I phys­i­cally can­not pre­scribe for r some patients.’

More than half of women on HRT are e pre­scribed patches, which are applied d once or twice a week be­low the waist.

Dr Hen­der­son said: ‘Women are get­ting g des­per­ate, they are left with no other r op­tion than to look over­seas. I know of one woman who popped into a phar­macy y in Spain where you could buy Everol ol over-the- counter. She walked off with h about six boxes. I have a patient whose mother is in South Africa, and is air­freight­ing six boxes over.

‘Peo­ple who are on hol­i­day are now rush­ing to the phar­ma­cies and com­ing back with HRT for their friends, al­though it won’t last long be­cause the man­u­fac­tur­ing is­sues are Europe-wide.’

El­iz­a­beth Carr-El­lis, a menopause cam­paigner who has been forced to switch HRT brands due to the cri­sis, said: ‘I have had peo­ple mes­sag­ing me of­fer­ing

‘My patients are pay­ing the price’

to go to Spain for me and pick up HRT.’ Women have shared sto­ries on so­cial me­dia of buy­ing HRT from phar­ma­cists over-the-counter in Spain. They are also re­sort­ing to buy­ing med­i­ca­tion from web­sites – which ex­perts warn could put their health in dan­ger as drugs bought over the in­ter­net are of­ten im­i­ta­tions.

The cri­sis started late last year when sup­ply-chain is­sues that be­gan in China forced some man­u­fac­tur­ers to cease pro­duc­tion. This led to raised de­mand for other brands and had a domino ef­fect which ‘wiped out’ their stock. Short­ages are ex­pected to con­tinue un­til next year.

Thou­sands of women have been forced to switch brands in re­cent weeks, caus­ing crip­pling menopause symp­toms in­clud­ing night sweats and de­pres­sion.

In re­cent days Evorel HRT patches, which are made by Bel­gian firm Janssen and have a mar­ket share of 40 per cent, have gone out of stock. An au­dit seen by the Mail last night re­vealed all Evorel patches are un­avail­able in the two largest phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal whole­salers – AAH, which sup­plies Lloyds, and Al­liance, which is owned by the same firm as Boots. No al­ter­na­tive patches are avail­able. FemSeven Se­qui and Conti patches, made by Ther­amex, have been out of stock for months and will not be avail­able un­til 2020. Estradot patches, an al­ter­na­tive HRT prod­uct pro­duced by Swiss giant No­var­tis, are not sub­ject to any short­ages. But No­var­tis does not pro­duce enough Estradot to meet the in­creased de­mand, mean­ing any patches it sup­plies fly off the shelves im­me­di­ately. It has had to ra­tion orders or else its stock would be wiped out in days. Doc­tors say health bosses should have fore­seen the cri­sis. Dr Hen­der­son said: ‘Me and my patients are pay­ing the price for dis­as­trous han­dling by Janssen and the Depart­ment of Health.’

The Depart­ment of Health said: ‘We have not re­stricted sup­plies of HRT, but sup­port No­var­tis’s de­ci­sion to man­age de­mand.’ Janssen said: ‘Availabili­ty of the Evorel range con­tin­ues to be acutely im­pacted by the lack of availabili­ty of al­ter­na­tive HRT prod­ucts.’

Pro­fes­sor An­drew God­dard, Pres­i­dent of the Royal Col­lege of Physi­cians, said: ‘The sit­u­a­tion is... un­likely to have the re­silience to sur­vive a ma­jor stress like No Deal Brexit.’

The Daily Mail, Au­gust 12

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.