More than half a million women in England have accessed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) via the HRT pre-payment certificate (PPC) since its introduction last spring, the government has announced.

The PPC scheme was launched on 1 April 2023, reducing prescription costs for eligible HRT items to £19.30 a year.

Calculations from the Department of Health and Social Care estimate that the initiative – which is part of England’s Women’s Health Strategy – has produced savings for patients of more than £11m since its launch.

The list of available treatments includes patches, tablets and topical preparations, and patients can use the HRT PPC as many times as they need to throughout the year.

Maria Caulfield, minister for women’s health strategy, said: ‘Many women often need to try a few different types of HRT to get the right medication that works for them.

‘By reducing the price of HRT to under £20 for a year’s supply, we’ve made it more equitable for women to go on living their normal lives.’

Professor Dame Lesley Regan, the women’s health ambassador for England, said the scheme was ‘a fantastic way’ of improving access to HRT.

‘When we created this strategy, we made it clear it would improve women’s health outcomes [and] 500,000 women accessing affordable HRT is a clear, tangible result of just that,’ she added.

Health and social care secretary Victoria Atkins also welcomed the ‘huge milestone’.

She said: ‘Better access to HRT will improve the lives of millions and gives women the freedom to take control of their symptoms.’