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CCG reported to advertising watchdog for ‘misleading’ patients on OTC prescribing

A primary care professor has reported a CCG for ‘misleading’ the public with a poster saying self-care medicines ‘are no longer available’ from their GP.

Professor Azeem Majeed, head of primary care and public health at Imperial College London, has reported NHS Dudley CCG to the Advertising Standards Authority because ‘CCGs have no legal right’ to limit the drugs GPs can prescribe.

The poster, headlined ‘new prescribing policy in Dudley’, says drugs including paracetamol, ibuprofen, head lice lotion, indigestion tablets, cough syrups, nasal congestion sprays, sore throat medication and vitamin supplements should now be bought ‘over the counter at your local pharmacy, shop or supermarket’ or via the minor ailment scheme.

But Professor Majeed, who is also a GP in South London, said: ‘In my view, the poster from Dudley CCG is misleading.

‘It states that prescriptions for self care medicines are no longer available from your GP.

‘The statement is not true. CCGs have no legal right to limit the drugs that NHS GPs can prescribe or that are available on the NHS.

‘GPs can suggest to patients that they buy some drugs over the counter but it is not true to say that these drugs are unavailable through the NHS.’

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Dr Purshotam Gupta, prescribing lead at Dudley CCG, said: ‘Dudley CCG have not received any formal complaint or sight of any complaint made to the Advertising Standards Agency.

‘The decision to change our policy was made following a consultation with the public and our GP members. 92 per cent of the GPs who responded agreed with the proposals.

‘The poster is part of a much wider campaign aimed at changing public behaviour. The materials were developed with patients and are designed to support our GPs to implement the policy guidance.’

Dr Gupta added that Dudley CCG have made it clear that ‘this is guidance and it remains the choice of the individual clinician to advise and treat the presenting patient appropriately. That may be to give a prescription or to advise the patient on how to access the product they need from a community pharmacy or over the counter.’

The Advertising Standards Authority is considering the accuracy of the poster and will respond to the Professor ’once they have considered whether any further action is required.’

Dr Gupta said: ‘Dudley CCG would be happy to discuss the campaign with the Advertising Standards Agency or with Professor Majeed directly.’


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