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BMA Guidance: Low Value Medicine/Over the Counter (OTC)

Following two consultations on which items should not be routinely prescribed in primary care, and on conditions for which over the counter (OTC) items should not routinely be prescribed in primary care, NHS England published revised commissioning guidance for CCGs on reducing prescribing of OTC medicines for minor, short-term health concerns, as part of a drive to reduce prescribing of OTC medicines to save the NHS money.

The GPC responded to both consultations, supporting the efforts to educate patients about self-care of minor ailments, and encouraging the appropriate use of effective medicines that are available from community pharmacies or other retail outlets. However, without changes to the GMS regulations that govern GP prescribing, we highlighted that GPs will be at risk of complaint from patients or criticism from their CCGs, and that the NHS England guidance cannot be used by CCGs to ban all such treatments.

GPs must continue to treat patients according to their individual circumstances and needs, and that includes issuing prescriptions where there are reasons why self-care is inappropriate.

The GPC has now published guidance on the contractual requirements for practices in prescribing OTC medicines for minor, short-term health concerns, which is available here

Updated on 10 May 2018, 333 views

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