Women going through the menopause will soon be able to access a year’s supply of a key treatment for just under £20.
The Department of Health and Social Care said from 1 April, women prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) will be able to access a new scheme that will cut prescription costs.
They will be able to access a year’s worth of treatment for £18.70, with a potential saving of up to £205.
Currently, each prescription for HRT costs £9.35, or £18.70 if a woman needs two types of hormones, and that needs to be paid once a month or every three months.
The department estimates about 400,000 women will benefit from the scheme which will allow them to have a prescription pre-payment certificate for HRT valid for 12 months.
About 15% of women aged 45 to 64 in England are currently prescribed HRT, according to Department of Health figures.
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The treatment helps relieve symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, by replacing female hormones that are at a lower level due to the menopause.
Women can use the certificate to have a variety of HRT prescription items, including patches, tablets and topical preparations.
There will be no limit on how many times the pre-payment certificate can be used while valid.
Women will be able to apply for the certificate through the NHS Business Services Authority or in person at pharmacies registered to sell the certificates.
The decision comes after the government published its women’s health strategy for England last summer.
Minister for women Maria Caulfield said: “Around three-quarters of women will experience menopause symptoms, with one-quarter experiencing severe symptoms, which can seriously impact their quality of life.
“Reducing the cost of HRT is a huge moment for improving women’s health in this country, and I am proud to be announcing this momentous step forward.
“In our women’s health strategy, we made menopause a top priority – by making HRT more accessible, we’re delivering on our commitment to women.”
Following two bouts of shortages last year, the department said it engages with suppliers on a weekly basis and closely monitors the supply of HRT.
Dr Ranee Thakar, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “We know that cost can be one of the barriers that women face in accessing treatment to manage their symptoms during menopause, and the introduction of HRT pre-payment certificates is a positive step to improve access to HRT.
“This announcement is an important first step, and we hope that more will be done to address the challenges and inequalities faced in accessing menopause care and treatment.”