The cost of single prescription items in Scotland will fall by £1 if new regulations are passed by the Scottish Parliament.
From April, a single prescription item could cost £3, instead of £4, if Holyrood approves the measure as expected. Patients in England currently pay £7.20 for prescriptions.
Public health minister Shona Robison (pictured) described the plans, which also include measures to reduce the cost of pre-payment certificates for those who need medicine over a longer period of time, as "great news for patients".
Ms Robison said: "Not only will it bring us nearer to removing a tax on ill health that people needing medicines shouldn't have to face, it's in line with the founding principle of the NHS that it should be free at the point of delivery."
The government believes that the cost of the move would be less than the £24m it has budgeted for. It announced in 2007 that it planned to abolish prescription charges by April 2011.
"I'm really surprised that we didn't get free prescriptions as part of the election campaign (sorry, budget). It's a tiny amount of money (compared with the NHS drugs budget of £15bn) for an enormous inconvenience. Other countries show that people don't take their medication if it is expensive, which leads to very expensive exacerbations and progression of disease later on. Can we afford not to make prescriptions free?" – H Mimney, North East