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Dispensing with prescriptions

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 21 May 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1316
  1. R E Ferner

    Pharmaceutical products are licensed as prescription only medicines; non -prescription medicines available only from a pharmacy; or products on the general sales list, which can be sold in any shop. The licences of several medicines have recently been switched from prescription only to pharmacy only, and all prescription only medicines will now be reviewed every few years to see whether restriction on their sale remains justified. From 1983 to 1992, 11 products made the transition; by the end of 1994, 26 will have done so. The categories of drugs that can now be bought without prescription include non -sedating antihistamines, corticosteroids for topical use in hayfever, oral and topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, nicotine patches, and H2 antagonists.

    The change of status brings several advantages. Patients can benefit from more effective treatments for a wider range of minor ailments without needing to see their doctor. Similarly, general practitioners will be pleased that …

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