Over-the-counter HRT drugs will cost women £2.50 a week

Consultation is “another step forward”

The consultation, revealed by The Telegraph, will seek advice from GPs, pharmacists and members on whether the product should be available over-the-counter for women over 50 who have not had a periods for at least 12 months.

Maria Caulfield, Minister for Women’s Health, said the consultation was “another step forward in ensuring women’s voices are heard loud and clear on how they want to access HRT to reduce the impact of menopause on their lives”.

It came as the UK’s Menopause Task Force – a coalition of ministers and health experts – held its first meeting, as it prepares to publish the first women’s health strategy led by the government.

Ms Caulfield, co-chair of the task force, said: “For too long, women have not been supported and heard when it comes to health issues specific to women. This is especially true when it comes to understanding and treating menopause.

She said the task force would bring about real change – “breaking taboos” about menopause and other aspects of women’s health.

Topical HRT products containing estrogen would still require a prescription from GPs, as would systemic HRT drugs, such as oral tablets, patches and gels which are used to treat hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.

Topical HRT such as Gina is considered a lower risk because it acts directly where it is applied with little absorption into the bloodstream.

Novo Nordisk, the maker, said a pack of tablets would cost £29.99. While the first pack would last for seven weeks, as it is administered more often for the first two weeks, subsequent packs would last for 12 weeks, meaning a weekly cost of £2.50 from the second pack.

The proposals follow a long campaign to improve access to HRT and reduce costs for women who receive it by prescription.