HRT medication to be sold over the counter in the UK for the first time
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Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is to be sold in the UK over the counter for the first time ever.
From today, Thursday 9 September, Boots is selling HRT without needing to present a prescription.
HRT helps treat the symptoms of menopause - such as hot flushes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, vaginal dryness and mood changes - by replacing hormones that are missing or at a lower level.
It is available as tablets, skin patches, as a gel or implants.
The chemist will be selling a specific type of HRT - Gina 10 microgram vaginal tablets - which cost £29.99 for a pack of 24. The tablets are available at nearly 600 Boots stores or online for those over 50 who have not had a menstrual period in the past 12 months.
The treatment is clinically proven to treat one of the symptoms of menopause, vaginal atrophy - and its symptoms - which occurs when lower levels of oestrogen cause thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls.
The tablets were reclassified from being a prescription-only drug to being available over the counter earlier this year by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
It's the very first time the MHRA has reclassified a HRT product, meaning many more people experiencing symptoms of menopause will be able to access the medication.
The tablets will still be available via prescription, for the price of a prescription or free for those who do not pay for prescriptions.
The move follows a shortage of HRT that saw some women struggling with their physical and mental health, while others resorted to sharing prescriptions.
Bina Mehta, a pharmacist at Boots, said: “Oestrogen levels decline after the menopause and can lead to changes in vaginal health that cause uncomfortable symptoms like vaginal dryness and itching.
“Unlike other menopause symptoms, these are usually chronic and progressive and will not resolve without treatment.
“Applied directly to the vagina, Gina works by gradually releasing a low dose of oestrogen into the vagina tissue to improve flexibility and elasticity and replenish moisture.”
Meanwhile, Anne Higgins, pharmacy director at Boots, added: “Boots has been supporting women for over 170 years and today is another important milestone in women’s health.
“As a pharmacy medicine, Gina is more accessible to patients as they no longer need a prescription from their GP. Boots pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals and from today our pharmacy teams can offer this treatment to patients following a short consultation with no appointment needed.”