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NHS Consultation on prescription of over-the-counter medicines

29 January 2018

People are being asked for their views on proposals to reduce prescribing of some over-the-counter medicines.

The proposals cover 35 minor and/or self-limiting conditions, along with vitamins, minerals and probiotics, which were included as items of low clinical effectiveness but high cost to the NHS.

In the year to June 2017, the NHS spent nearly £570m on prescriptions for medicines which can be bought over the counter from pharmacies and other outlets such as supermarkets.

These prescriptions include items for conditions that will heal without medical treatment, where there is little evidence of clinical effectiveness or where they can be bought easily elsewhere.

The consultation, which runs until 14 March 2018, is being carried out by NHS England and NHS Clinical Commissioners in order to create a consistent, national approach to prescribing.

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) – which are responsible for buying healthcare services for local people – are to receive guidance after the results of the consultation are known.

Dr Prakash Chandra, Chair of Newham CCG said: “This consultation gives people the opportunity to have their say on the prescribing of over the counter medicines for 35 minor and/or self-limiting conditions.

“National guidance on prescribing over the counter items for these conditions could save the NHS money and put an end to regional variations in what is available on prescription and allow the money saved to be spent for the treatment of serious conditions like cancer . In many cases, self-care can be more effective and convenient than visiting the GP and can free up valuable GP time.”

Three events and a series of webinars (online meetings) are being held to provide further information and to seek people’s views on the proposals. Please follow the links below to book a place.

Face-to-face events

Webinars (online meetings) 

Click here for full details of the consultation.

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