Physiotherapists and podiatrists in England are to get the right to prescribe medicines by themselves.
Ministers agreed to the change in the law after carrying out a consultation, but it will be 2014 before it is fully rolled out.
When physios and podiatrists do start prescribing they will become the first in the world to be given such powers.
And it will mean patients do not have to go back to GPs to get drugs such as anti-inflammatories and painkillers.
The changes have still to be approved by Parliament.
But the decision by ministers to press ahead marks a significant milestone in the long-running campaign to extend prescribing powers.
Over the past 10 years senior nurses have been given more responsibility for prescribing and it has long been argued that other health professionals should also get the powers too.
Health minister Lord Howe said: "By introducing these changes, we aim to make the best use of their skills and allow patients to benefit from a faster and more effective service."
Dr Helena Johnson, of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said the move would "hugely improve" the care physios could provide.
"Patients will now receive a more streamlined and efficient service, meaning they get the medicines they need more immediately," she added.