UK trans women’s drugs supply cut off

Latest news (8th May 2014) on payment changes the requirement for prescriptions is on this update blog post.

Latest news (10th December 2014) on the closure of two of IHP’s sites is on this blog post.

Update 2, Tuesday 6th May:: Also see this email from IHP, which seems to contradict the information given over the phone to some people.

Updated, Tuesday 6th May: For the latest news, see this post.


It has just come to light that the main source of HRT for trans women apart from the NHS has been closed down. Estrogen has long lived in a strange spot in drugs legislation as it is illegal for a pharmacy to sell it to you without a prescription – but it is quite OK to buy it. For years, people have been buying it online to the extent that it is not considered unreasonable by doctors for someone turning up at a Gender Identity Clinic to already be on HRT. Given the length of NHS waiting lists this happens in around half of cases. (Edit: See in the comments below for recommendations of alternate sites to use. I cannot vouch for any of these personally – yet – and I don’t know if they have been affected by whatever caused the IHP shutdown)

For some, obtaining HRT online is the only way they can get it, as some NHS organisations have “red-listed” supplies and completely cut off non-private sources. Unless you can afford a private prescription (Way more costly than the drugs themselves, which the NHS actually makes money on via the prescription charge) then IHP was the only legal way of obtaining HRT, even if not having HRT would leave you undergoing chemical menopause due to being post-operative.

Unfortunately, a recent international crackdown on less legitimate online pharmacies seems to have caught IHP up. On the European site you are now asked to provide a prescription with any order, as well as payment options being restricted to American Express (Hard to get hold of in the UK) only:

IHP EU - UK orders

The alternate sites, that are not branded as being UK or EU specific, have sometimes escaped some of the changes pushed upon the European version but there is no such relief here. There is simply no payment option presented and it is impossible to proceed.

IHP VU - UK orders

For comparison, here is what you see if you provide a US shipping address on the .biz or .vu sites: the eCheck payment option appears.

IHP VU - US orders

I have written to IHP to try to find out more information on what has happened, but in the mean time for those affected, the following advice may prove useful:

Affected by IHP closure? Your GP is can prescribe WITHOUT GIC. Take http://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/int-gend-proto.pdf and http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/files/pdfversion/CR181x.pdf. If GP refuses you are entitled to a second opinion. If still refuse get referral to a hospital endo. If endo refuses get 2nd endo opinion.

16 comments

    1. we used them anyway – cheaper than inhouse and the stated value on the customs form is lower than the boundary you pay customs fees on, saving an additional ~£15

  1. Goldpharma is also still active and last time I checked, had these drugs. They’re cheaper than IHP and you don’t get a huge customs label on your package which identifies what you’re buying to the people you live with or, if you live in a small community, the postman who knows all the neighbours.

  2. Is Internationaldrugmart (.com or .eu) for real? Saw it mentioned on tumblr but do not know anyone who has used it…….

  3. just could i be notified of updates of alternative sights that sell hormones

  4. Apparently somebody has contacted customer services and it is an error on the website. If you order from the .biz site and tick the ‘I will fax you a prescription’ box, it’ll let you pay by credit card and then they’ll apparently still ship to UK even if you don’t send a prescription. Note that I’ve not checked this information myself so you may wish to ring them to clarify.

    1. This is what i thought too and i have been able to get it in the past but if they are really clamping down on it then :S Gosh…im just glad others are posting alternate links as i dont know what id do!

  5. It’s a bit unfortunate how we came to this, but there is a supplier that sells through Silk Road under the handle “gotmilk”. It appears that “gotmilk” ships generics from India, wordings and availability of items appear nearly identical to other companies operating out of India, as well. You have to have bitcoins but there are ways to turn your currency (Euro, Sterling, whatnot) into bitcoin.

    The prices are great though (denominated in US Dollar, anywhere from $0.05 per tablet (sold in units of 10 tablets) for Progynova-equivalent generic to a 80g tube of Estrogel-equivalent generic for $5.00.

    Silk Road is a bit controversial, so I won’t furnish direct link from here, and in any case you have to have a Tor access and browser.

    At your own risk; caveat emptor.

  6. I use evroshipping. The stuff they send you is genuine and comes from India. Their site isn’t secure but I use a prepaid card and have always got the stuff ok. Very scary times

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