Free prescriptions: Women could £200 a year in menopause medication charges

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Specifically, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) drugs are set to have their costs cut in a bid to support women going through menopause. The Menopause (Support and Services) Bill was introduced by Carolyn Harris MP to allow patients in England to be entitled to free HRT prescriptions, in the same way patients in Scotland and Wales are. Currently, patients in England currently pay £9.35 for each prescription item, including for HRT while women in other parts of the UK do not have to pay.

Costs can arise to £18.70 per prescription if women need two types of hormones as part of their regular medication dose.

HRT treats symptoms by replacing hormones that are at a lower level for those who reach a particular age and experiencing menopause.

While the Government did not consent to universal free HRT prescription charges, it did agree that women will only need to pay once a year, saving those affected between £900 to £200 a month.

This represents a massive win for women’s rights and prescription campaigners who have long called for the Government to address this issue and have prescription charges more in line with those in Scotland and Wales.

Speaking about the issue in Parliament, Ms Harris said: “Menopause doesn’t discriminate, so the cost to treat it shouldn’t either.

“We have got women struggling to find almost £20 a month, and it just isn’t right when this is a time in their life that women will reach – there’s no avoiding the menopause for half the population.

“The biggest complaint I’ve received over the last few months is from women who both need oestrogen and progesterone.

“Women who’ve had a hysterectomy can take oestrogen on its own, but for everyone else both are needed.

“Despite the hormones being combined into one product, women are charged individually for the hormones, meaning that each prescription is costing them £18.70.”

In a statement, the Prescription Charges Coalition stated: “We welcome the Government’s proposal that people needing HRT prescriptions will only need to pay once a year for their medication, and call on the Government to ensure this change also applies to men affected by Klinefelter syndrome (KS/XXY).

“This will significantly reduce the cost a person needing the medication will face, by up to £200 per year.

“We pay tribute to Carolyn Harris MP for tabling the Menopause, Support and Services Bill as she has shone a spotlight on the unfairness of people getting vital medication for free in all other UK nations.

“We also thank all MPs who supported the debate and shared their experiences.

“But thousands of people with other long term health conditions are still facing rising costs to simply live well and manage their condition.

“This is unjust and risks burdening our NHS, as medication remains unaffordable. Now is the time for the Government to overhaul the outdated prescription charges exemption list.”

Currently, the Government is holding discussions with NHS England to put this prescription policy into law.

Furthermore, the NHS is exploring merging two hormone treatments into one prescription, which it says affects approximately 10 percent of women using HRT and elevates costs.

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