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BPH and chlamydia drugs to go OTC

A treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia and an antibiotic for chlamydia are next in line to be made available over the counter.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency announced plans to consider the drugs as part of a continuing drive to expand access to medicines OTC.

The MHRA's business plan for 2006/7 did not name the drugs to be considered. Benign enlargement of the prostate can either be treated with an

a-blocker or finasteride.

But Dr James Kingsland, a GP in Liverpool and member of the scientific advisory group of the Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme, questioned the proposals.

'It's being done to reduce NHS costs and the danger is it

is not taking into account the intricacies of diagnosis, side-

effects, co-morbidities and monitoring.

'Alpha-blockers were developed as an antihypertensive but they don't feature in guidance because of side-effects, particularly hypotension. The doses used for BPH will affect your blood pressure.'

He said antibiotics also carried a risk of side-effects.

Professor Mike Kirby, a GP in Letchworth and professor of health and human sciences at the University of Hertfordshire, said a trial of an OTC a-blocker to relieve BPH symptoms would be reasonable. 'If they can do urine testing and use an appropriate questionnaire, I can't see a problem,' he said.

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