Viagra and the Pill could be sold over pharmacy counters

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

Viagra, the contraceptive pill, and drugs to tackle obesity, asthma, and acne may be sold in future over the counter in chemists.

Measures announced by the Department of Health yesterday could mean dozens of well-known medicines are reclassified for sale by pharmacists rather than by prescription only.

The changes aim to make it easier for patients to treat minor ailments themselves, or to manage chronic conditions such as arthritis, angina, high blood pressure and recurring skin conditions.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, a Health minister, said: "Many patients, especially those with chronic conditions, don't want to spend any more time than is necessary visiting their GPs, and many are experts in their own conditions.

"Enabling patients to make a choice of how they access such medicines empowers patients to help them manage their own care, with the help of skilled healthcare staff."

Lord Hunt launched a system that will halve the time it takes for drug companies to apply for a prescription-only product to be reclassified for over-the-counter sale. The scheme aims to reduce the burden on family doctors, who regularly have to write repeat prescriptions.

The pharmaceutical companies will be responsible for making requests for reclassification. But the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain has drawn up a list of products, including drugs, that would be suitable for over-the-counter sales. For most of these, patients will need to have had their conditions diagnosed by a doctor and to be able to show a pharmacist proof of their diagnosis.

Pharmacists would also receive training on the reclassified drugs to be able to offer advice.

Lord Hunt said that in the past 10 years, only 50 substances had been reclassified as safe for over-the-counter sales. They include Nurofen for pain relief, the "morning-after" pill, nicotine patches, eye-drops for hay fever, cream for thrush, and tablets for cold sores, heartburn and migraine.

"I want to see the number of changes double," Lord Hunt said. "That's the challenge and it is now up to the players to deliver."

The first drug to benefit from the process is Flixonase allergy nasal spray, which is a treatment for hay fever and airborne allergies, made by GlaxoSmithKline.

Other candidates that the Royal Pharmaceutical Society considers "worthy of consideration" include beta-blockers for angina, drugs for digestive disorders, statins to lower cholesterol and inhalers for chronic respiratory disease.

Comments