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OTC drug advertising restrictions lifted

The Government has lifted restrictions on advertising over-the-counter drugs to the public but there will be no change to the strict ban on advertising prescription-only medicines direct to the consumer.

Pharmaceutical companies will be able to advertise OTC drugs for conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease, rheumatic conditions and serious skin, eye or ear disorders under the move.

The changes mean aspirin could be promoted for the secondary prevention of heart attack or stroke as well as

calcium and vitamin D products for patients with osteoporosis.

The changes will not come into force until guidelines for advertisers and information and training for pharmacy staff have been provided. This could be as early as the end of the year, the Department of Health said.

Professor Alasdair Breckenridge, chair of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, said: 'We will work with industry and health professionals to ensure guidance on advertising these medicines will be available before the change is introduced.'

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