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Red tape ‘madness’ as HRT supplies ‘stuck in warehouses’ – ‘Women are suffering’


Campaigners have requested Health Secretary Sajid Javid to release the MHRA licensed stock, as they warn against foreign imports. HRT is one of several products that have been hit by manufacturing and supply chain problems, while demand has risen by two thirds in the last year.

According to the reports, manufacturers are locked in talks with the new HRT tsar, as part of efforts to find a solution to a growing crisis.

One of the proposals on the table involves the import of unlicensed stocks from countries that are not facing shortages, it has been reported.

However, campaigners and MPs on Monday urged ministers to instead consider other options.

They said existing stock that has already been licensed by regulators remains stuck in warehouses, because of bureaucratic systems which delay its release.

Campaigners said it was “madness that we have HRT stock in this country which can’t be released because of box-ticking”.

Carolyn Harris, co-chairwoman of the UK menopause taskforce, has written to the Health Secretary, urging him to order changes to the existing system, so pharmacies receive stocks more quickly.

Ms Harris said there was existing and MHRA licensed stock currently in UK warehouses, which cannot be released because of bureaucracy.

She said: “This could be in pharmacies in a matter of days, but is currently on warehouse shelves because it’s not listed on local formularies.

“We are asking that HRT products are made automatically available on the local formulary so that doctors know they are available.

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“Allowing medical professionals across the country to prescribe medication from a list of all licensed products would surely expedite distribution and ultimately allow all those who need HRT to receive it quickly and easily.”

Ms Harris also raised concerns about the prospect of importing unlicensed medicines from abroad, saying this could involve older forms of HRT, rather than the treatments in short supply.

She said: “Given that we hold the stock on our own shores, surely we should look closer to home for the solution.”

The MP is among those calling for pharmacists to be given the power to offer patients an alternative if their product is not available.

She added: “We need to stop this ping pong between GP and pharmacist.”

Broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, who last month launched the campaign website The Menopause Mandate website, said: “It is madness that we have HRT stock in this country which can’t be released because of box-ticking.

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“Women are suffering, and the shortages urgently need resolving.”

Health officials said that while GPs were “encouraged” to apply the recommendations from local formularies, they were not obliged to be restricted to them.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told The Telegraph: “Every woman who needs hormone replacement therapy (HRT) should be able to access it quickly and without hassle.

“We know that supply issues are affecting a limited number of HRT products and understand how distressing this can be for patients.

“However, most HRT products, including alternatives to those experiencing supply issues, are available.

“The NHS has issued guidance to prescribers making clear that they are not limited by their local formularies and can find information on alternative stock supply at the NHS England Specialist Pharmacy Service website.

“We’re continuing to work collaboratively and transparently with the industry and last week met with HRT manufacturers and suppliers to discuss the steps they’re taking to ensure women can reliably access HRT products now and in the long term, such as ensuring prescriptions are issued in shorter cycles for now.”



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