Women’s Health Department ‘needed as a result of HRT shortages’

Ireland needs an assistant minister for women’s health to tackle shortages of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products, Independent TD Verona Murphy has said.

Her call comes following the creation of an HRT Czar role in Britain following reports that product shortages have become so severe that women are sharing prescriptions and, in some cases, reporting feelings of mental health distress.

Women in Ireland have faced shortages of HRT products for months, with common products on shelves until at least July.

Ms Murphy said she had been “inundated” with women who had contacted her since she raised the crisis at the Dáil earlier this month.

‘We needed a women’s health minister yesterday,’ Ms Murphy said.

Joe Duffy’s Recent Discussions About Menopause [showed] we should not be ashamed of our health.

“I believe we should definitely have, at the very least, a junior ministry.”

She called some of the messages she received “very distressing”.

“Many emails I received said that HRT saves lives, and the thought of not being able to access the correct HRT absolutely put them in a state of complete mental disarray,” she said.

It is “impossible to predict which products may become unavailable in the future,” according to Dr. Ciara McCarthy, clinical lead for women’s health at ICGP.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the Women’s Health Task Force is “considering all proposals to improve women’s health outcomes and experiences”.

She pointed to growing demand for HRT, with demand for a set of products, which she did not name, expected to be between 4.5 and 7.5 times higher this year than in 2019.

Ciara McCarthy, clinical lead for women’s health at the Irish College of General Practitioners, said the shortages had been going on for two years. Dr McCarthy said:

GPs are working to the best of their abilities to start HRT prescriptions based on currently available products.

“However, it is impossible to predict which products may become unavailable in the future.”

She warned that women who stop using HRT abruptly see a rapid return of symptoms and advised women who cannot find their prescribed product to return to their GP for solutions.

Britain’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday he would appoint an “HRT supply chair” to meet with suppliers under the vaccine task force model developed during the pandemic.

Maria J. Book