Have you felt the disruption in the atmosphere? To the east, across the pond? In the country that is our “special friend,” as politicians are fond of saying.
There is a crisis in the United Kingdom, one that has been discussed on the floors of Parliament, one that has led to the appointment of a “tsar” to solve the problem.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) meds have been in short supply since the beginning of the year. The British newspapers and online discussion forums are filled with reports of women who need the drugs to maintain equilibrium taking desperate measures.
Some women are panicked by the thought that the black hole they were in before treatment will return.
Some have resorted to rationing their prescription, swapping treatments in parking lots, turning to the black market, driving to far-flung pharmacies, and getting friends to bring some from abroad.
‘Some women talk of feeling suicidal, they have extreme anxiety and depression, and are panicked by the thought of the black hole they were in before treatment returning,” Katie Taylor of the Latte Lounge support group told the Daily Mail. “It is no coincidence the highest rate of suicide among women is in the 45 to 55 age group.”
Taylor added: “Women are losing jobs, marriages are breaking down—someone needs to get a grip [on] it urgently.”
Why the Crisis?
Supply-chain issues—a problem faced by so many industries since COVID—are at the root of the shortage. But increased demand surely plays a part as well. An estimated 1 million women in Britain are on HRT, which comes in a variety of forms, including patches, pills and gels. Recent figures suggest that the number of HRT prescriptions in the UK has doubled in the last five years. The increase is thought to be because women better understand the impact of menopause on their lives and that they can ask their doctor for help instead of suffering through it.
75 percent of pharmacists in the UK are dealing with aggression from frustrated clients.
A survey by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, which represents more than 11,000 pharmacists across the country, found 67 percent of its members are facing supply problems daily. A more startling finding is that 75 percent are dealing with aggression from frustrated clients.
Caroline Nokes, conservative MP and chair of the women and equalities committee, raised the shortages issue in the House of Commons recently. She said pharmacies in her constituency had completely run out of HRT, “which leaves women of a certain age … without access to the estrogen gel, which enables us to sleep and to work competently.”
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced he would appoint a new HRT tsar to tackle the crisis and would use lessons learned during the rollout of the Covid vaccine.
“I am very angry about the HRT shortage and frustrated for the women who can’t get HRT,” Carolyn Harris, an MP who chairs the parliamentary group which specializes in menopause, told the Independent. (Can we stop and let our mouths drop a bit: The British government has a legislative group that specializes in menopause. Wow!)
“It is scary,” Harris continued. “Women who can’t get HRT will be making really bad decisions because of brain fog. They will be giving up work, and there will be relationships ending, and women even contemplating suicide. It is cruel. The government could do something by making sure the alternative products sitting in manufacturers are made available. It is bad planning by the suppliers and bad planning by the government.”
Let’s hope that our British sisters get relief soon and that the U.S. doesn’t suffer the same fate, since we don’t even have a menopause committee in Congress to deal with it. Can you imagine that many in the House or Senate would care? Hang in there, HRT supply chain.