Estrogen is out of stock at private pharmacies but remains available at the government’s Pharmacy of Your Choice after concerns were raised that there was a shortage in the country.
NGOs and activists had raised the alarm that estrogen, which is a vital treatment for the transgender community, was out of stock across Malta. However, sources within the Health Ministry said that the shortage was solely within some private pharmacies.
The government’s POYC, however, is still stocking the medicine. Estrogen hormone therapy is a treatment option for transgender people. It causes the development of typically feminine traits, such as breast tissue, decreased muscle mass, and a reduction in facial and body hair.
Malta has experienced several shortages of crucial medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic. In December 2020, a shortage of HIV medicine occurred due to the pandemic and Brexit, leaving many in limbo. Patients resorted to public appeals to other patients to share their stock as the national medicine supply ran out.
The issue was quickly addressed, but a few months later, crucial HIV testing kits ran dry because of Brexit.
Malta imports between 60-80% of its pharmaceuticals from the UK. Since it’s such a small country, Malta doesn’t have the advantage of economies of scales or the capacity to buy high volumes to reduce the price of medicines.
Now, agents are faced with more red tape and the challenge of creating new relationships with other EU exporters. Brexit will affect re-exports too because Malta is a hub for North Africa for medicine.
Malta’s pharmaceutical sector was already bracing for major shocks to the system when the UK’s EU withdrawal was formalised. However, a few months later and issues remain.
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