Prescribing of over the counter medicines

Following a consultation held early 2018, NHS England has published guidance for CCGs on the treatment of conditions for which over the counter (OTC) medicines should no longer be prescribed.

The CCG is working with GPs, Community Pharmacists, and patients to support this guidance to help free up an estimated £100 million for frontline care each year by curbing prescriptions for certain OTC medicines.

In relation to the exceptions, it is also important to highlight:

  • The guidance does not apply to people with long-term or more complex conditions who will continue to get their usual prescriptions.
  • People who receive free prescriptions will not automatically be exempt from the guidance.
  • For patients where the clinician considers that their ability to self-manage is compromised as a consequence of medical, mental health or significant social vulnerability; these patients will continue to receive prescriptions for over the counter items subject to the item being clinically effective.

The new guidance will curb the routine prescribing of products that are for:

  • A self-limiting condition, which does not require any medical advice or treatment as it will clear up on its own, such as sore throats, coughs and colds
  • A condition that is suitable for self-care, which can be treated with items that can easily be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy, such as indigestion, mouth ulcers and warts and verrucae.

Further information about the management of minor self-treatable illnesses can be found on the NHS Choices website. Downloadable leaflets are also available to the right of this page for more information on the OTC medicines changes.

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