A national shortage of a leading hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in the country could have devastating impacts on transgender men, non-binary and intersex individuals.
MambaOnline first broke the news that the country has run out of the widely used injectable form of testosterone, Depo-Testosterone, after transgender men began complaining about the deep effects.
The HRT, produced by international pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, is considered to be relatively affordable and has a “masculinising effect” on those who need it.
“Many trans people, particularly those assigned female at birth, will use testosterone as part of their medical gender affirming treatment, to achieve masculinisation,” says doctor, author and transgender activist Anastacia Tomson.
“HRT needs to be used consistently and regularly, similarly to chronic medication”.
Elliott Kotze, a trans man from the West Coast whom injects Depo-Testosterone once a week, said, “In terms of mental health, and this is the scary part, gender dysphoria will probably start rearing its head again soon, as will a hormone-related depression comparable to PMS. Not looking forward to
Theo Rossouw, a trans man from Cape Town, explained that, “When one’s hormones are not at the correct levels, it can lead to all sorts of issues like depression, anxiety and fatigue. It really is quite terrible and I am very fearful”.
The other available testosterone HRT in South Africa, such as Nebido and Sustanon, are said to be far more expensive.
“I am fearful of financial pressures that I cannot shoulder, an investment in Nebido means forking out R4400 in six weeks. I do not have this money,” says Rossouw.
Furthermore, Dr Tomson stressed that, “Switching back and forth between different products is not ideal, and many doctors do not have experience in prescribing the different forms of testosterone”.
Pfizer South Africa issued a small statement commenting on the shortage. “There is currently a short-term interruption of supply of Depo-Testosterone in South Africa due to circumstances outside of Pfizer’s control. We are expecting to resume supply by the end of February 2019,” said Charmaine
Motloung, Pfizer Communications and Media Manager.
“We fully recognise the importance of the consistent availability of Depo-Testosterone to patients and are actively working with the Regulatory Authority to meet any urgent medical needs. We recommend that patients speak to a healthcare professional about alternative treatments,” she said.