A change in the law could help with the shortage in medication to relieve menopause symptoms, a leading pharmacist has said.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) helps symptoms such as hot flushes, low mood and anxiety – but demand is currently outstripping supply.
A law change could allow pharmacists to manage shortages more smoothly, Dr Geraldine McCaffrey said.
“It would reduce anxiety and stress on patients,” she said.
Dr McCaffrey is a member of the Welsh National Board of The Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
She said a legal change “would also reduce the burden on the NHS of managing those shortages, both from the community pharmacy end and also for general practitioners”.
As it stands, pharmacists have to refer back to prescribers, such as a GPs, for even very small changes in doses – such as offering two packs of 1mg tablets instead of one pack of 2mg tablets.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Welsh National board wants community pharmacists to have greater freedom in dispensing medication.
“This huge amount of time that is being spent…sorting out medicine shortages, that is time that could be spent by pharmacists and GPs working with their patients,” Dr McCaffrey told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast.
Some manufacturers have had difficulties sourcing the ingredients needed to make certain HRT medicines.
Demand is outstripping supply for some products – there are temporary issues with the hormone gel Oestrogel, for example.
‘Safe, quality medicines that will work as they expect’
However Dr McCaffrey pointed out that alternatives were available and could be prescribed in the meantime.
“What we want is for women to obtain their HRT medicines via an NHS prescriber and a registered pharmacy so we can be sure that they are getting safe, quality medicines that will work as they expect,” she said.
Pharmacists in hospitals in Wales can already make certain changes without referring back to the GP, but community pharmacists cannot.
The law change the The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is asking for would apply to the UK as a whole.
“This isn’t something the Welsh Government can address themselves, but once it was changed, it would then help women in Wales,” Dr McCaffrey added.