Boots is the first pharmacy to sell hormone replacement therapy (HRT) without a prescription without a prescription.
The drug, used to treat menopausal symptoms, will be available as of Thursday, September 8 at more than 590 Boots stores and on the website as a pharmacy drug.
The Gina 10 mg vaginal tablet, a topically acting oestrogen HRT, is the only over-the-counter treatment that has been clinically proven to target and treat the cause of vaginal atrophy and its associated symptoms after menopause.
The pills were reclassified from a prescription drug to a pharmacy drug by the Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) earlier this year.
It is the first time the regulator has reclassified a hormone replacement product as a pharmacy drug and will improve access to HRT treatment across the UK.
It comes after demand for HRT products surged over the summer as supply chain problems led to a shortage of medicines, benefiting around 13 million people who are currently peri- or menopausal in the UK.
A Channel 4 documentary hosted by Davina McCall titled Sex, Myths and Menopausewhich aired in May 2021 was also cited as the reason for the surge in demand.
A consultation held by MHRA on the reclassification of the Gina tablets received an “unprecedented” 1,229 responses, with the majority (88 percent) supporting the proposal.
The drug is suitable for women 50 and older who have not had a period for at least a year and can help relieve symptoms such as vaginal dryness, itching, pain, and uncomfortable sex.
It will be available from Boots as a pack of 24 vaginal tablets for £29.99 and will be in all Boots stores by the end of October, the retailer said.
Patients who cannot afford to buy the medicine can still get it and other HRT medicines through the NHS for the price of the prescription or free for those who don’t pay for prescriptions.
Bina Mehta, a pharmacist at Boots, explains, “Estrogen levels decline after menopause and can lead to changes in vaginal health that cause uncomfortable symptoms such as vaginal dryness and itching.
“Unlike other menopausal symptoms, these tend to be chronic and progressive and will not go away without treatment.
“Applied directly to the vagina, Gina works by gradually releasing a low dose of estrogen into the vaginal tissues to improve flexibility and elasticity and replenish moisture.”
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 because they no longer need a prescription from their GP. Boots pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals and as of today our pharmacy teams can offer this treatment to patients after a short consultation without an appointment.”