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MHRA pushes for OTC naproxen

A key painkiller could soon be made available over the counter as part of the UK drug regulator's drive to expand access to commonly used medicines.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is consulting on moves to make naproxen available without prescription for relief of period pain.

This, it claimed, would provide 'a valuable alternative' to ibuprofen, currently the only NSAID available over the counter for dysmenorrhoea.

Dr June Raine, director of vigilance and risk management of medicines at the MHRA, said: 'Period pain can be successfully managed by women themselves. Over-the-counter naproxen would expand the choice of treatments available.'

The MHRA insisted naproxen was unlikely to be used incorrectly and had a wide safety margin in case of overdose.

Reviews in other countries where it was a non-prescription medicine had failed to identify specific safety concerns, it said.

But Dr Jim Kennedy, RCGP prescribing spokesman, said while the move to make packs of nine 250mg tablets available over the counter was not a major concern, there were issues with Government moves to make more and more drugs available without prescription.

'There are risks with any NSAID going over the counter because of the risks of gastro-intestinal, kidney and other damage. The problem is there seems to be a policy to make

significantly more powerful drugs available over the counter,' he said.

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