Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors call for national rules on OTC prescribing

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: (Published 22 March 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j1442
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ

Cost cutting plans from clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to limit GPs’ prescribing of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines have sparked debate among doctors and prompted calls for national guidance.

In a letter to local GPs on 13 March 2017 obtained by The BMJ, Lambeth CCG set out new plans to limit GP prescriptions of OTC medicines as part of a push to save money by promoting self care. This follows similar moves by a string of CCGs including Bristol,1 Lincolnshire,2 and Essex.3

Azeem Majeed, head of the department of primary care and public health at Imperial College London and a GP in Lambeth, said he was concerned that policies were being applied on an “ad hoc” basis by CCGs and called for them to be set by national policy makers. He warned that such policies could disproportionately affect poorer patients who are less able to buy medicines over the counter.

But Clare Gerada, former chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners and also a GP in Lambeth, said that she backed the policy because of the high cost …

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