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Half a million access cheaper HRT as chemists lament ‘broken’ supply chain



More than 500,000 women in England have accessed cheaper hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) since the introduction of the Women’s Health Strategy on April 1 last year, the UK government has announced. 

The HRT prescription prepayment certificates (PPC) reduced prescription costs to £19.30 per year as part of a wider scheme of government initiatives to bolster support for women experiencing negative menopause symptoms.

The PPC can be used against a list of eligible HRT items that includes patches, tablets and topical preparations.

Women can use the HRT PPC as many times as needed throughout the year.

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “I am determined to make access to healthcare faster, simpler, and fairer.

“Better access to HRT will improve the lives of millions and gives women the freedom to take control of their symptoms.

“This is a huge milestone and shows how successful our Women’s Health Strategy is in delivering the outcomes women want and deserve.”

Women experiencing the menopause are also set to benefit from the establishment of women’s health hubs in local health areas across the country.

The UK government aims to establish at least one women’s health hub in every local area this year, enabling better access and quality of care in services for menstrual problems, contraception, pelvic pain, menopause care and more.

Professor Dame Lesley Regan, the Women’s Health Ambassador for England said: “When we created this Strategy, we made it clear it would improve women’s health outcomes. 500,000 women accessing affordable HRT is a clear, tangible result of just that.

Menopause is an inevitable stage of every woman’s life, so receiving second rate care for a predictable problem is not acceptable.

“The HRT PPC is a fantastic way of giving more women access to treatment and our women’s health hubs will provide women experiencing severe menopause symptoms advice from a healthcare professional.”

Meanwhile, chemists have warned that HRT patients are being put at risk due to the ‘broken’ supply chain.

Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said:

“Our supply system is consistently unable to cope as soon as the demand for a medicine goes up – for example, scabies medicines, ADHD medicines, diabetes medication and some cancer medicines, HRT medicines – the list continues.’

“In addition, as pharmacists we are worried that some of these medicines’ shortages have an impact on patient safety because it affects their treatment, in some cases delays to their treatment, or, as some patients report, their symptoms return when they cannot get hold of their medicines.”

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