Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could be made available for patients over the counter for the first time.

Today (2 February) the MHRA launched a public consultation on whether to reclassify HRT medication Gina 10 microgram vaginal tablets from a POM to a P, which would allow women to access it in a pharmacy without a prescription from their GP. 

The consultation calls for pharmacists, GPs and the general public to share their views with the Government by 23 February.

This consultation seeks views on making this product available over the counter to women aged 50 years and above, who have not had a period for at least one year. 

Commenting on the recent announcement, Maria Caulfield, minister for women's health, said: 'As a woman and a nurse, I know how challenging the symptoms of menopause can be. In the Women’s Health Strategy call for evidence, women across the country were clear - menopause support is a key issue which we need to do more to address.

'This consultation is another step forward to ensure women’s voices are being heard loud and clear on how they want to access HRT to reduce the impact of menopause on their lives.'

Haitham Hamoda, chairman of the British Menopause Society said: 'Our view is that improving access to HRT is a good thing, but it is really important that women can access all the help and advice they need.

'It’s great that there is so much conversation about menopause now and people are far more open about it. But we don’t want this to come down to a question of self-diagnosis – it’s really important that those thinking about starting HRT get the right information.'

Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in England, said: 'We support the possibility that HRT could be made available through an NHS pharmacy service and welcome any moves to support women’s health.

'Pharmacists have access to Summary Care Records and information on patients, so are well placed to offer this support.

'However, we want to make sure this expertise is utilised properly and is therefore only offered by pharmacists and not on general sale.'

She added: This would be a welcome step, but the Government must go further to tackle the health inequalities experienced by women across Great Britain.'

It follows changes made last summer, which saw the UK medicine regulator approve two progestogen-only pills for sale without a prescription from pharmacies.  

It also comes after the Government decided to make HRT cheaper and easier to access, back in October.

The commitment was agreed in Parliament at the second reading of the Menopause Bill, introduced by Carolyn Harris, Welsh Labour MP for Swansea East. 

The Government said it would work with NHS England to look at implementing longer prescribing cycles, in line with NICE guidelines, to reduce the need to pay frequent prescription charges. 

If this change to prescribing cycles is implemented, women could only have to pay one charge every 12 months, saving up to £205 a year. 

The Pharmacist previously reported the plan could be a ‘nightmare’ for the pharmacy sector in terms of workload if not implemented correctly

A Government consultation on women’s health policy received a record-breaking 110,000 responses last year. 

The Civil Service is developing a ‘workplace menopause policy’ to ensure that those affected by menopause can continue to work. 

In addition, the Government will set up a menopause task force, co-chaired by Maria Caulfield and Carolyn Harris. It will be tasked with considering how education and training, workplace policies and peer groups can support menopausal women.