HRT supply issues worse in Northern Ireland due to NI Protocol, says Health Minister Robin Swann in letter to Jim Allister

Supply issues for hormone replacement therapy drugs have been worsened by the Northern Ireland protocol, Health Minister Robin Swann has said.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 4:34 pm
Handout photo issued by Press Eye of Health Minister Robin Swann during a press conference in Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast.

The drugs are used to relieve symptoms related to the menopause.

Mr Swann said, in a letter written in response to concerns raised by the TUV MLA Jim Allister, that while there are supply issues “throughout the UK” there had been “additional pressures” in Northern Ireland.

Mr Allister, in a statement, said: “Here, once again, we have an every day example of the impact of the pernicious Protocol on the day to day lives of ordinary people in Northern Ireland.

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“The Protocol is not only cyanide to the Union but quite literally bad for your health.”

He added: “It has to go in all its parts and, quite frankly, those who campaigned for the Protocol and who implement it day and daily need to examine the real life impact of their decisions.”

The TUV MLA said he had written to Mr Swann “fter being contacted by a constituent who was concerned about the availability of Utrogestan 100mg capsules in North Antrim and East Londonderry”.

The Minister said: “I can confirm that my Department has been made aware of ongoing issues affecting the supply of some hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products to patients throughout the UK due to an unforeseen increase in demand. Further to this there have been recent delays to a small number of products being supplied to Northern Ireland, including Utrogestan 100mg capsules, as a result of the additional pressures that some pharmaceutical companies have experienced with the need to serialise all product packs before supply to Northern Ireland.

“This is because under the Northern Ireland Prtocol medicines used in NI must comply with the EU equis for medicines, specifically the Falsified Medicines Directive, unlike GB.”

Mr Swann said work is ongoing to correct the problem.

He continued: “The Department of Health and Social Care in England, which has responsibility for all UK medicine supplies, has confirmed that they are continuing to work closely with the pharmaceutical companies involved in order to resolve these supply issues.

“An expedited process has now been put in place to ensure these HRT products can be released to Northern Ireland as soon as possible.”

He added: “Supplies of a variety of other HRT preparations continue to remain available.”