Menopausal women are being forced to ‘barter for £50 bottles of HRT on the BLACK MARKET’ because of shortage of pills and demand doubling
- Desperate women say they are swapping bottles with other women on Facebook
- Others paying up to £50 for a single bottle as surge in demand causes shortages
- Some even forced to barter with private pharmacies for leftover stocks
Women suffering from the menopause are having to buy HRT on the black market amid shortages on the NHS.
An investigation found some women are being charged up to £50 for a single bottle online or trading prescriptions with others on Facebook.
Support groups claim desperate women have even started to barter with private pharmacies and clinics for leftover stocks.
Menopausal women are entitled to hormone replacement therapy for free on the NHS, with a £9.35 prescription charge in England.
But the number of monthly HRT prescriptions has more than doubled in the last five years, with half a million now written every month, sibo flagyl dosage The Telegraph reports.
The surge in demand has outstripped supply, causing shortages of some of the most popular forms of the therapy.
Experts say the raised awareness and fading stigma about the menopause mean more women are coming forward for treatment.
An investigation has found that women suffering from the menopause are being forced to buy HRT on the black market amid shortages on the NHS (stock)
Every year, roughly 1.5million women experience difficult menopausal symptoms, including hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety, ‘brain fog’ and memory problems that impact all areas of their lives.
Menopause is when a woman stops having periods naturally and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
It is a normal part of ageing and usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55 when a woman’s levels of the sex hormone oestrogen drop.
Eight in 10 women will experience menopausal symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, low mood or anxiety and problems with memory.
Women are advised to see their GP if their symptoms are difficult to manage.
Treatments doctors can provide include hormone replacement therapy, such as tablets, skin patches and gels that replace oestrogen.
HRT provides the body with oestrogen which it stops producing during the menopause.
It is most commonly prescribed in the form of patches, pills or gels — but only a fraction of women with symptoms get treatment.
Supply chain issues and a shortage of key ingredients has led to the patients who do come forward struggling to get access, a problem made worse during the pandemic.
Some GPs are unaware of the shortages – meaning they continue to prescribe HRT, only for their patients to go to their pharmacy and be told it is out of stock.
Women are having to switch their HRT medication, sometimes causing the return of symptoms as the body gets used to the new drug.
Among those struggling to get HRT on the NHS is Fleur Maslin-Miller, 48, who ended up paying privately for Oestrogel.
She told The Telegraph: ‘I had a hysterectomy last November, and went straight into catastrophic menopause; with joint pain, insomnia, night sweats and anxiety.’
When her pharmacy ran out and told her they did not know when they would next restock the drug, she turned to the black market, paying triple the NHS prescription fee.
‘Not having it is absolutely unthinkable. I am fortunate in that I can afford to pay, but there are thousands of women in absolute hell,’ she added.
‘On the Facebook group I’m in it’s ridiculous — women are bartering and swapping bottles.’
Millie Kendall, the chief executive officer of the British Beauty Council, also grew desperate when her pharmacy ran out.
‘When one of the girls in my office said that her mum had some spare, I said I would happily pay her £50 for it,’ she said.
Without the medication, Ms Kendall struggled to sleep and was plagued with anxiety.
The Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘We are aware of supply issues that have affected hormone replacement therapy products in recent years.
‘However most are unaffected, and alternatives are available to the limited number of products which have been impacted by supply issues.’
Menopause occurs when a woman stops having periods, meaning she is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
The process — which is triggered by the ovaries producing less oestrogen — is a natural part of ageing and usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55.
HRT is one way of treating the symptoms. It restores the levels of female hormones, bringing relief to hundreds of thousands of women each year.
Doctors warn some types of HRT can raise the risk of breast cancer, but insists that the benefits outweigh the risks.
WHAT IS HRT AND WHY IS THERE A SHORTAGE?
What is HRT?
Hormone replacement therapy is used to relieve symptoms of the menopause by replacing hormones as the body stops producing them.
It can be taken in tablets, skin patches, gels and creams.
Why is there a shortage?
The crisis is being caused by a ‘perfect storm’ of different factors. Demand has increased as more women are being prescribed the drugs because safety concerns over side effects have subsided.
Secondly, major suppliers have experienced manufacturing problems.
Shortages of these drugs has led to a rise in demand for alternatives, some of which are now out of stock because not enough was produced to meet the increased demand.
What is unavailable?
More than a dozen commonly prescribed HRT drugs are out of stock or in short supply. These include most Elleste tablets, FemSeven Sequi & Conti patches, Evorel 50 patches, Estradot patches and Cyclo-Progynova tablets.
Are there alternatives?
GPs are able to switch patients to different drugs by trying to match the oestrogen and progesterone component of the unavailable drug to an alternative brand. However, some HRT drugs do not have direct alternatives.
This includes combined oestrogen and progesterone patches, such as FemSeven Conti and Sequi.
Women who had been taking the combined patch may now have to switch to an oestrogen-only patch and take a progesterone tablet.
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