Millions of women suffering from an overactive bladder have been urged to take part in a consultation that could make a treatment available over the counter for the first time.
The call for evidence, launched on Saturday, could lead to the medicine Aquiette being reclassified so that it can be bought at a pharmacy without a prescription.
One in six women in the UK are thought to have symptoms associated with overactive bladder, such as the sudden, uncontrolled need to urinate which can lead to accidental leaks.
Aquiette tablets are used to treat women with milder symptoms of the condition which cannot be controlled by bladder training alone.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is calling on people with the condition, as well as healthcare professionals with experience of treating it, to share their views in the reclassification consultation.
Dr Laura Squire, chief healthcare quality and access officer at the MHRA, said: “For many women, an overactive bladder can make day-to-day living extremely challenging. It can impact on relationships, on work, on social life, and it can lead to anxiety and depression.
“Fortunately there are treatments around, and from today you will have a chance to have your say on whether one of those treatments, Aquiette, can be available for the first time without a prescription.”
The minister for women’s health, Maria Caulfield, said: “When it comes to sensitive issues such as bladder control, speaking to a GP may act as a barrier for some women to seek help.
“Reclassification of Aquiette would enable women to access vital medication without needing a prescription.”
The Commission on Human Medicines has advised that it is safe for Aquiette to be made available over the counter at UK pharmacies.
The consultation will run for three weeks, closing on 6 May.