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Over-the-counter medicines

Engagement is vital for switching more medicines from prescription-only to over-the-counter, says UK regulator

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has emphasised that greater stakeholder and public engagement will be key to the success of its reclassification platform, set up in 2015 to help enable more medicines to be made available without prescription. The UK regulator has also given some recommendations on how this can be achieved.

In its first year of work, the UK stakeholders’ reclassification platform has studied previous switches to either a pharmacy medicine (P) or a general sales list medicine (GSL) to assess what a successful switch looks like. It has also considered how best to minimise any possible risks to patients when switching medicines and how information about medicines available over-the-counter for the first time should be communicated to patients or carers.

The platform, which includes representatives from healthcare professionals, patients and the Department of Health, has also reviewed the public consultation process and made suggestions on how it should change and how stakeholder groups could be convened.

Ian Hudson, chief executive of the MHRA, says: “This platform will ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be fully involved in the process for switching medicines from prescription only to non-prescription availability.

“The MHRA is committed to widening access to medicines for the benefit of public health when it is safe to do so. We recognise that a key success factor in this process is support from all health professionals and patients to focus on the issues that matter to them.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20200726

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