Menopausal women are being left to suffer “life-altering symptoms” due to an ongoing shortage of Hormone Replacement Therapy medicines in Ireland.
The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has warned that Ireland is facing shortages in several different HRT medication, citing an “unexpected increase in demand” as the cause.
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Drogheda GP Amy Morgan said the shortages are a national issue that Ireland faces on an ongoing basis.
“It is something that just keeps coming back again and again,” she said. “There were shortages in 2019 and 2020 and I know our UK colleagues have faced the same as well.
“I know there are supply issues and there will be, but these are essential medicines for women and they are going without it.”
She said the HRT medications are prescribed to women going through a range of menopausal symptoms.
“We prescribe it to alleviate what are often life-altering symptoms they are experiencing,” she said.
“It is very debilitating for women and often they have taken a long time to pluck up the courage to come and speak to you.
“Once you establish that they are experiencing these symptoms, for some women, the suitable treatment is HRT.
“That comes in different formats so tablet-based medication, gels and patches but unfortunately a lot of these preparations are unavailable, or they might be available for a month before going out of stock again.
“These are essential medicines and we can’t afford to have women having them one month and then not having them the next. It is very disruptive.”
Also on the show, Sallyanne Brady, co-founder of Facebook group ‘The Irish Menopause’ said the current shortage is “probably the worst we have seen”.
She said there are 32,000 women in the group constantly posting and sharing stories about their struggles accessing their prescriptions.
“It is like some sort of treasure hunt,” she said. “I have seen posts from women saying, I have been to 17 pharmacies, where will I try next?”
“This is actually a disgrace. You wouldn’t see that with any other medication.”
Ms Brady said the shortage seems to be mainly an issue for Ireland – with women able to access medication in the North.
“We are left with nothing and what really irritates us all is that women are able to travel to the north of Ireland to get it so what is the issue?” she asked. “Why is the Republic out of supply when the north of Ireland isn’t?
“One of our members travelled up to the North with her family and made a day out of it so she could feel well so she can sleep at night.”
Dr Morgan said it is hard to understand the lack of urgency about solving the issue.
“You are kind of left scratching your head thinking, it is 2022 and these are essential medicines,” she said.
“If there was a shortage in the morning of medicines like aspirins or inhalers there would be a sense of urgency about why this is the case and what are the alternatives in terms of providing alternative supply chains.”
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