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BPC 2009: UK is European leader in reclassification of drugs

by Benedict Lam

Benedict Lam reports on the importance of pharmacists in reclassifying drugs, during BPC 2009

 

Pharmacists are key players in the reclassification process, said Colette McCreedy, specialist in self-medication at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

She said that, since the publication of the NHS plan in 2000, many NHS policy documents have made reference to making more medicines available without prescription and empowering people to look after themselves.

Also, the pharmacy White Paper in England and pharmacy policy documents in the other UK countries envisage a greater role for pharmacists in self-care, public health and screening, and all of these can be supported by POM-to-P reclassification.

Mrs McCreedy emphasised that the ability of pharmacists to deliver the rigorous type of supervision and professional intervention required to supply medicines safely and effectively without prescription — whether the supply is made by a pharmacist or by members of the pharmacy team — is a key factor in deciding whether a medicine is suitable for reclassification. This, she said, has contributed to the increasing range of medicines that we see in pharmacies today.

Mrs McCreedy believes that the UK is the European (if not world) leader in reclassification of medicines, citing the recent reclassification of azithromycin for the treatment of chlamydia as an example. Medicines that have been reclassified at EU level, such as orlistat, are also emerging. These medicines become available at the same time in all 27 member states.

Mrs McCreedy believes that the UK has an advantage with regards to reclassification because UK legislation allows the MHRA to put in place safeguards that ensure safe sales and supplies involving pharmacists. Many member states do not have the leglislative framework to do this, she added.

However, Mrs McCreedy said that with this ground-breaking work comes the need to continuously monitor safety in use, such as using the yellow card reporting system.

Moreover, pharmacists can help by supporting risk minimisation measures that the MHRA puts in place when safety in use or misuse is discovered, Mrs McCreedy said.

For example, pharmacy controls have ensured those who seek to buy pseudoephedrine from pharmacies for the illicit manufacture of crystal methamphetamine have not succeeded.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10982832

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