Shortage of HRT may force women to become drug mules by traveling overseas to buy vital supplies of medication, experts warn
- For months women have been unable to access their preferred HRT treatment
- Some are turning to black market or meeting up in car parks to swap medication
- People are looking to Spain where similar medication is sold over-the-counter
The HRT crisis could turn women into ‘drug mules’ as they are forced to travel abroad to bring back vital treatment amid shortages, experts have warned.
In recent months desperate women have been unable to access their preferred hormone therapy treatment needed to help alleviate debilitating symptoms of the menopause.
Some have turned to the black market or even meeting up in car parks to swap medication.
And yesterday the Daily Mail reported on a postcode lottery in England for alternative treatments.
Now it has emerged some have looked to Spain where similar medication is sold over-the-counter.
Campaigners are warning that women may end up relying on strangers to bring back HRT from abroad or may even become ‘drug mules’ themselves.
The HRT crisis could turn women into ‘drug mules’ as they are forced to travel abroad to bring back vital treatment amid shortages, experts have warned. Pictured: Tracey Fine who was forced to buy her HRT medication in Spain
In recent months desperate women have been unable to access their preferred hormone therapy treatment needed to help alleviate debilitating symptoms of the menopause (stock image)
‘I stocked up in Spain’
A mother forced to buy her HRT medication in Spain has said it is ‘disgraceful’ women can’t access the correct treatment in the UK.
Tracey Fine, 57, was recently in Spain and bought herself Estradot patches, as well as Oestraclin for her mother.
The mother of two, from Bushey, Hertfordshire, said: ‘They let me buy four tubes in one go. I could go to another chemist down the road and buy another four if I wanted.
‘I’m going again next month so I’ll do the same. I said to my friends that I’m quite happy to bring it back.’
Medication from abroad can have slightly different dosages to brands in the UK.
Tracey Fine, pictured, 57, was recently in Spain and bought herself Estradot patches, as well as Oestraclin for her mother
While it is not illegal to bring HRT medication into the UK from overseas, campaigners have liked it to ‘drug mules’ due to the large number of women who could be forced to bring it back for others.
Katie Taylor, CEO and founder of the Latte Lounge menopause support group, said women are posting on Facebook asking others to bring back products from Spain.
‘Every day women are desperate,’ she said. ‘I’ve seen women post messages asking people to get them an equivalent in Spain. It’s worrying because it’s a personalized medication and you need to make sure you’ve got the right type.’
Many are on the hunt for an alternative to Oestrogel, a type of HRT used by 30,000 women in the UK.
Some claim a medication called Oestraclin is a similar treatment available in Spain.
One woman shared a picture of it on Facebook, saying: ‘You can buy this over-thecounter in Spain. Apparently it does the same job, just slightly weaker.’
Labor MP Carolyn Harris, co-chairman of the UK Menopause Taskforce, said she had not heard of this happening but warned: ‘We’ll have women turning into drug mules if we’re not careful. It’s terrifying.’ Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said:
‘While we appreciate the frustrations women are experiencing, we urge them not to share HRT medication as this could lead to serious side-effects.’
◼ Sajid Javid has been urged to change the law to allow pharmacists in England to alter prescriptions during medicine shortages such as the one concerning HRT.
Claire Anderson, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said pharmacists in England must provide the exact product and amount of medication on a prescription and refer women to their GP if something is not available.
Allowing them to amend prescriptions ‘will save time and lessen anxiety for women’.