Monday, September 26, 2022

Shortage of HRT: Women can become drug mules by traveling abroad, experts warn

HRT shortage could force women to become drug mules by traveling abroad to buy vital supplies of medicine, experts warn

  • Women haven’t been able to access their preferred HRT treatment for months
  • Some are turning to the black market or meeting in car parks to swap drugs
  • People looking to Spain where similar drugs are sold over the counter

Experts warn that the HRT crisis could turn women into ‘drug mules’ as they are forced to travel abroad to get back vital treatment.

Desperate women in recent months have been unable to access their preferred hormone therapy treatment as needed to help ease the debilitating symptoms of menopause.

Some set up meetings on the black market or even in car parks to swap drugs.

And yesterday the Daily Mail reported a postcode lottery in England for alternative treatments.

It has now emerged that some people have looked to Spain where a similar drug is sold over the counter.

Campaigners are warning that women could depend on strangers to bring back HRT from abroad or even become ‘drug mules’ themselves.

Experts warn that the HRT crisis could turn women into ‘drug mules’ as they are forced to travel abroad to get back vital treatment. Pictured: Tracy Fine who was forced to buy her HRT drug in Spain

Desperate women in recent months have been unable to access their favorite hormone therapy treatments as needed to help ease the debilitating symptoms of menopause (stock image)

Desperate women in recent months have been unable to access their favorite hormone therapy treatments as needed to help ease the debilitating symptoms of menopause (stock image)

‘I stocked up in Spain’

A mother forced to buy her HRT medicine in Spain has said it is ‘shameful’ that women in the UK are not getting the right treatment.

Tracy Fine, 57, was recently in Spain and bought Estradot patches herself, as well as Ostraclean for her mother.

A mother of two from Bushey, Hertfordshire, said: ‘They let me buy four tubes at a time. I could go to another chemist down the road and buy another four if I wanted to.

‘I’m going again next month so I’ll do the same. I told my friends that I am very happy to bring it back.

Medication dosages from overseas may vary slightly for brands in the UK.

Tracy Fine, pictured, 57, was recently in Spain and bought herself an Estradot patch, as well as Ostraclean, one for her mother.

Tracy Fine, pictured, 57, was recently in Spain and bought herself an Estradot patch, as well as Ostraclean, one for her mother.

Although it is not illegal to bring HRT medicine into the UK from overseas, campaigners have compared it to ‘drug mules’, as large numbers of women may be forced to bring it back for others.

Katie Taylor, CEO and founder of Latte Lounge Menopause Support Group, said women have been posting on Facebook and asking others to bring back products from Spain.

‘Every day women are desperate,’ she said. ‘I’ve seen women post messages asking people to bring them counterparts in Spain. This is worrying as it is a personalized medicine and you need to make sure that you have got the right kind.’

Many are looking for alternatives to Oestrogel, a type of HRT used by 30,000 women in the UK.

Some claim that a drug called Ostraclin is a similar treatment available in Spain.

One woman shared a picture of it on Facebook saying: ‘You can buy it over-the-counter in Spain. Apparently it does the same thing, just a little weaker.’

Labor MP Caroline Harris, co-chair of the UK Menopause Taskforce, said she had not heard of this happening, but warned: ‘We will turn women into drug mules if we are not careful. it’s terrible.’ Professor Martin Marshall, President of the Royal College of GP, said:

‘While we appreciate the frustrations women are experiencing, we urge them not to share HRT medication as it can lead to serious side effects.’

^ Sajid Javid has been urged to change the law to allow pharmacists in England to change prescriptions during HRT-related drug shortages.

Claire Anderson, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said pharmacists in England should provide the exact product and amount of medicine on prescription and refer women to their GP if some are not available.

Allowing them to revise prescriptions would ‘save time and reduce women’s worries’.

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