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Workload fears as drug ad ban ends

Restrictions on advertising medicines sold over the counter in pharmacies are to be swept away, the Government's drug watchdog has announced.

The shock move means pharmaceutical companies will be able to market simvastatin and other formerly prescription-only drugs directly to consumers, raising fears of a surge in demand for GP consultations.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency revealed the advertising ban would end for treatments in cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, mental illness and peptic ulcers.

Ending the ban means GPs and patients could soon see advertisements for Zocor HeartPro (10mg simvastatin) once it goes on sale in pharmacies next month.

Dr Peter Fellows, chair of the GPC prescribing sub-committee, said the move was worrying for GPs, especially regarding simvastatin.

'We're very concerned about the workload this might create. It was a major argument against the switch [to pharmacy status]', he said.

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