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A shortage of menopause drugs in Ireland is causing 'inconvenience and distress' for women

That’s according to the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Image: Shutterstock/fizkes

WOMEN AROUND THE country have experienced “distress and inconvenience” as a result of a shortage of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have said. 

HRT is a treatment used to replace the female hormones that a woman’s body is no longer producing as a result of the menopause. 

The Institute said it has raised concerns with the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) regarding the shortages of a number of HRT medications.

It said many patients have reported being unable to fill prescriptions and “this is causing distress and inconvenience for those women affected”. 

“We are committed to advocating for women’s health and will continue to monitor the situation,” the Institute said. 

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the HPRA said that medicine shortages have been a global issue for some time. 

“HRT shortages have impacted multiple countries over the past year and are not restricted to Ireland,” the HPRA said. 

“While there are shortages of some specific brands, alternatives are available to meet patient need,” it said. 

The HPRA added that “the suppliers have stated that the causes of the shortages relate to both active substance availability and manufacturing delays”. 

“The HPRA continues to be in frequent contact with the suppliers to maintain efforts to expedite re-supply as soon as possible,” it said. 

The issue is also affecting the UK, with reproductive health bodies there also blaming the shortage on manufacturing and supply issues. 

The Royal College and Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the British Menopause Society (BMS) said that it is unclear why the shortages started. 

“We understand the HRT supply situation should begin to improve as the range of products which supply 70% of the HRT patch market will be re-introduced to the market,” RCOG president Dr Edward Morris said earlier this month. 

However a number of HRT medications and contraceptives remain unavailable, some until the end of this year, and some with no timeline as to when they will be back on the market.

He said it “remains unclear why there is a shortage in the first place or when the normal supply of the products might resume”, adding: 

The lack of transparency around why these shortages have occurred is extremely frustrating.

In October, the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) restricted exports of 19 HRT medications to help address the shortfall in the UK. 

For most women, alternative HRT products are available which can be discussed with their doctors, the chair of the British Menopause Society, Haitham Hamoda, said. 

“It is very frustrating that we still do not know why these shortages are happening,” said Hamoda. 

“While we understand the Department of Health and Social Care is working with suppliers, we remain concerned about these shortages which need to be addressed urgently.”

The HPRA is advising any patient who has concerns about their medicine to contact their doctor or pharmacist to discuss their treatment. 

With reporting by Press Association

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