Pharmacists and pharmacy staff experience huge amount of pressure regarding shortages of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medicines, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said on Monday.

The RPS statement came just two days after three organisations – Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG), British Menopause Society (BMS) and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), have written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, calling for a working group to address the ongoing HRT supply constraints.

“Pharmacists are working incredibly hard to ensure they source supplies and are able to get the medicines that the patients need. We hope these shortages will be resolved as soon as ingredients come back in for manufacturers,” said RPS President Sandra Gidley.

“We understand and hope that shortages in these HRT medicines are soon to be resolved as ingredients are becoming available again to suppliers. There are shortages across a range of medicines, and these remain an issue for pharmacists and patients.”

On Friday, the RCOG has highlighted the issue of the unavailability of HRT medicines, saying that it causes distress for clinicians, patients and pharmacists.

The organisation also warned of a recent shortage of contraceptives, that may lead to a rise in unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

Dr Edward Morris, RCOG President, said: “Thousands of women and girls have been adversely affected by this ongoing situation and they deserve better. We are calling on the DHSC to set up a working group with industry, regulatory agencies and our organisations to get to the root of why shortages in both HRT and contraceptives have occurred.”

BMS Chair Haitham Hamoda and FSRH President Dr Asha Kasliwal also expressed concerns regarding the continuing HRT shortages.

“For some contraceptive methods, a truly equivalent alternative just does not exist. This is the case of Sayana Press, a self-injectable contraceptive. Women who use Sayana Press now have to see a healthcare professional to access a non-self-injectable alternative, which is undoubtedly an extra burden for them, increasing demand in busy GP practices and sexual and reproductive healthcare clinics. At the moment, the resupply date for Sayana Press is unknown,” Dr Kasliwal said.

“These shortages disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in our society, for example, a woman struggling to access clinics, or a transgender patient, who is already under psychological distress, and for whom changing contraceptive preparations could cause further difficulties,” she added.

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