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Pharmacy drugs access scheme to be offered to 12,500 pharmacies

Pharmacy leaders have given the green light to offer a scheme to 12,500 pharmacies from next month giving patients access to 13 medicines - such as salbutamol inhalers - without an individual prescription, despite GPs saying they had ‘significant concerns’.

The National Pharmacy Association confirmed the rollout of the scheme after the body was forced to rethink the scheme following an intervention from the chief pharmacist at the Department of Health.

In December, the antibiotics trimethoprim, doxycycline and ciprofloxacin were removed from the scheme after a meeting between chief pharmacist Dr Keith Ridge and the NPA about the effect on antimicrobial resistance.

Pulse has learnt the scheme will go ahead from the 1 February, including 13 drugs, such as azythromicin, sildenafil, the emergency contraception pill, anti-malarials, salbutamol and calcipotriol cream.

A spokesperson from the NPA said: ‘The scheme will be rolled out to NPA members from 1 February, though we don’t expect all members to take it up.’

But Dr Daryl Freeman, a GPSI in Norfolk, said she had ‘significant concerns’ about patients obtaining these medicines without a prescription.

She said: ‘I have significant concerns about all those medicines being included, apart from the emergency contraceptive pill. Calcipotriol cream is not something you need urgently, or is difficult to get from the GP surgery.

‘There are often underlying medical issues - such as diabetes - for erectile dysfunction, so we shouldn’t be handing out Viagra without the checks a GP would run. For salbutamol inhalers, there are widely-discussed issues about control and ensuring the patients are being monitored.

She added: ‘Azythromicin isn’t the most commonly used antibiotic, so why is it included? Antibiotics shouldn’t be made more widely available. It doesn’t make sense when GPs and healthcare professionals are being sent emails every day saying “Please monitor your antibiotic prescribing”.

‘It’s giving really mixed messages. It’ll make it more difficult for us when we turn around to patients and say “No, you’ve got a viral illness so I can’t give you antibiotics.”’

Readers' comments (8)

  • Once again I feel that I have inadvertently stepped into an alternative dimension where prescribing advice is printed as a negative and common sense is standing on it's head.

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  • The government is welcome to continue pushing this nonsense. We'll end up like Spain whereby antibiotics are available readily over the counter so that it can be used to treat the common cold.

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  • Perhaps Dr Freeman should look at the criteria for these supplies in more detail: Azithromycin will only be available to patients with a positive chlamydia screen, for example, where it remains the standard treatment.

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  • A Dr self prescribing inhalers is unacceptable as we are rightly strongly advised to avoid self diagnosing and prescribing. For some reason it is now deemed that those not on the GMC register are in a better position to self diagnose and decide on salbutamol prescribing ................ oh well let's see what happens.

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  • Please note that the article is totally misleading. It is unfortunate that reporting and comment is not based on fact.

    The service will not be 'rolled out to 12,500 pharmacies' but is being responsibly extended beyond the existing pilot. Supply of medication is limited within strict protocols and the only antibiotic we have chosen to include at this stage is Azithromycin for positively tested Chlamydia. Salbutamol inhaler supply is also limited to pre-diagnosed patients who have run out of medication and also limited by frequency.

    The service is intended to complement current supply routes not replace. It meets a patient need in a safe, responsible and controlled manner involving a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare professional.

    Evaluation of the service will inform any future review of the place of PGDs as part of the overall medicine supply system.

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  • Vinci Ho

    While you can say one has to be liberal about this , I think once you have had evidence of misuse or abuse on this system , it wil become unsustainable.....
    Watch the space , interesting.......

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  • Ability to refer for ?Cancer screening, Medicines without prescription , Medicines monitoring and reconciliation,care at the chemist Seems to be a bit of a trend here Cash strapped NHS DH/BMA/GP's seem to have all fallen out 50BN savings by 2019 Flat cash for NHS Probable GP rush for early retirement Health secretary who doesnt really want the job DH creating new initiatives and policy by the day
    UK Gov scared shitless they are going to have to alienate the older voter Discuss

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  • It seems women with UTIs must wait over weekends and Bank Holidays, or miss work for a doctor's appointment, or indeed wait till a GP appointment is available, while suffering from dysuria and other symptoms, and running the risk of complications such as pyelonephritis, whereas men with erectile dysfunction have help at hand as and when they want it. Surely it is not beyond the wit of the professions and the politicians to formulate a suitable list of antibiotics with clear instructions, which even females can understand.

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