WOMEN have been forced to buy HRT on the black market as UK-wide shortages have hit.
Millie Kendall has told how she felt she had to pay £50 to get a dose, as crippling symptoms crept back in.
The head of the British Beauty Council said she bought it from a work colleague’s mum.
She said: “I was panicking.
“I’m 55 years old, my legs get very swollen, I can’t sleep, and my anxiety has come flooding back.
“It’s a necessity – and a shortage is a disgrace.”
Supplies of HRT have been scuppered since pre-Covid – the therapy helps to combat menopausal symptoms, which include anxiety, joint pain, disturbed sleep and hot flushes.
Shortages are leaving women struggling to get their HRT from pharmacies and looking to the “black market”.
Certain products have been going out of stock since 2018 due to problems in the supply chain and manufacturing, heightened by the pandemic and increased demand.
Demand for oestrogen has skyrocketed, amid a drive to soon make it available over the counter without prescription.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chairwoman of the government’s new menopause task force, said women are being let down.
She added: “The trouble with the menopause is for far too long women have not been listened to, women have been ignored, they’ve been prescribed and diagnosed with other conditions and the menopause wasn’t even considered…
“For a menopausal woman this HRT is as important as insulin is to a diabetic.”
She also told the BBC that “women take their own lives out of the anger and the frustration and the insecurity and anxiety” they suffer from being without the medication.
In response the Health Secretary announced he is going to appoint an HRT tsar.
Jo McEwan, from menopause training company PositivePause, which provides support to women and organisations, welcomed the announcement.
She said: “What’s happened is the supply can’t keep up with the demand now, clearly.
“But this isn’t the first time it’s happened so I think, yes, let’s make somebody accountable or get someone who’s got that authority to say: ‘Right, let’s get the big picture on this, let’s talk to the stakeholders, let’s talk to the pharma companies, and let’s ensure that women are not, as you say, trading HRT in car parks and buying it from abroad’.”
Prescriptions for HRT have more than doubled in England over the past five years, according to NHS data, with nearly 538,000 prescriptions given in December.
Women are facing problems with both the supply and hefty cost of HRT prescriptions.
Last October, the Government pledged to cut the cost of repeat prescriptions of HRT, saving millions of women hundreds of pounds a year.
It was a win for The Sun’s Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign, backed by Ms Harris and dozens of celebrities.
But despite backing the “menopause revolution”, there have been delays in making changes to the HRT costs.
Oestrogel manufacturer Besins Healthcare said it has experienced “exceptionally high demand” in recent months, resulting in shortages of the product.
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