Women going through the menopause in England will be able to access cheaper hormone replacement therapy (HRT) prescriptions from Saturday.
HRT can now be obtained using a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC), which will last for 12 months and cost £19.30 for the year.
The Government estimates the move will help 400,000 women save hundreds of pounds annually.
Women can get the certificate online or in some pharmacies, and it can be used as many times as needed in the 12-month period.
Women can check their HRT medicine is covered by the PPC by visiting www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/help-nhs-prescription-costs/nhs-hormone-replacement-therapy-prescription-prepayment-certificate-hrt-ppc/medicines-covered-hrt-ppc
Professor Dame Lesley Regan, women’s health ambassador for England, said: “Many women do not realise that they are going through the menopause.
“Helping to make them aware about the inevitability of becoming menopausal is an important first step.
“The next step is improving awareness that HRT may be an option to help women manage this stage of their life course.
“Making HRT easier to access will significantly improve the lives of many women who choose to use it, enabling them to reach their full potential.”
Health and Social Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Menopause care is essential healthcare, and we are ensuring cost is no longer a barrier to women getting the medicines they need.
“Better access to HRT will improve the lives of millions and gives women the freedom to take control of their symptoms.
“We’ve rightly put women’s health at the top of the agenda through our Women’s Health Strategy – and continue to deliver on our commitments.”
In recent weeks, pharmacy leaders have warned that the IT infrastructure
GP and menopause specialist Dr Louise Newson said: “This is a step in the right direction, other hormones are freely available on the NHS to anyone so HRT should ideally be no different.
“Research has shown that women living in more deprived areas are less likely to be prescribed HRT.
“There are many health benefits from taking HRT, including reducing future risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, which many perimenopausal and menopausal women are missing out from.
“There are too many barriers for women to access menopause treatment and cost of HRT is one so I hope this will really make a difference.
“However, it is disappointing to see that testosterone will not be covered by the certificate.
“Testosterone is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for symptoms of low libido where HRT alone is not helping and, in my clinic, patients often say it helps with other menopausal symptoms including brain fog and low mood.”
She said other potential issues were warnings from pharmacists that the IT infrastructure was not yet in place to support the rollout, and that not all HRT products are covered by the new certificate.