Medicines available over the counter

Medicines available over the counter

18th July 2017

NHS West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) want to understand how people would be affected if they had to buy certain over the counter medicines, instead of requesting a prescription for some minor conditions.

Minor ailments, such as hay fever, athlete’s foot and mild eczema are treatable with medicines which can be purchased without prescription from a pharmacist. Local pharmacists or chemists are highly knowledgeable about a wide range of minor conditions and can offer patients advice about the best course of treatment.

Patients in West Leicestershire already pay directly for medicines such as paracetamol and the CCG is considering extending this to some other over the counter medicines for other minor ailments, to make the best use of NHS resources.

These include minor conditions like headaches, indigestion, head lice, travel sickness, athlete’s foot, diarrhoea, insect bites and stings and hay fever, which many people already do purchase without prescription. It also includes Vitamin D supplements in some cases. [1]

The CCG also want to understand the impact on relevant people if they were asked to buy specialised infant formula which can be prescribed for babies with reflux or lactose intolerance instead of it being supplied on prescription.

This does not apply to specialised products for infants with cows’ milk protein allergy which is very expensive and not readily available in supermarkets.

Dr Chris Trzcinski, GP in Leicestershire and Vice Clinical Chair at West Leicestershire CCG, said: "We want to hear from as many people as possible about the impact that any changes will have on them. The medicines we are currently asking about are easily available from local pharmacies, as well as from supermarkets and many of them are cheaply available.

“All medicines that can be bought over the counter are strictly regulated in the same way as those supplied on prescription, and are held to the same standards of quality, so patient’s don’t need to worry that the medicine available to buy directly will not be as good at treating their condition.

“As the demand for NHS services continues to increase we need to look at everything we do to ensure the NHS locally uses resources appropriately and fairly.

“Treatments that can be bought over the counter range in cost from less than a pound to more than a prescription charge but mostly cost as little as a few pounds. If everyone purchased these items rather than requesting a prescription it could save approximately £350,000 a year which would make a big difference to our services and free up resources for other treatments. In addition each item on a prescription costs the NHS £0.90 to dispense on top of the cost of the medicine.

“We recommend that people with minor ailments do ask at their pharmacist for advice on how to treat them, rather than making a GP appointment in the first instance. Community pharmacy staff are experts in treating minor ailments and are ideally placed to advise patients and supply suitable medicines to treat their conditions. They’re easily accessible with many larger pharmacists, particularly those in supermarkets, offering extended opening hours as well as opening on a Sunday.”

To find out more about the survey and tell us about how any changes will affect you please visit the CCG website -

The survey opened on 17 July and will remain active until 04 August.

People without access to a computer are asked to write to “Over the counter medicine survey, West Leicestershire CCG, 55 Woodgate, Loughborough, LE11 2TZ” and they will be posted a copy of the survey to fill in. Alternatively they can call 01509 567700 referencing the Over the counter medicine survey and leave their address details and a survey will be posted out.
Once the survey closes, the results will be analysed and the resulting report will be made public on the CCG website.


[1] There is no intention to stop the prescription of Vitamin D when it is prescribed in conjunction with calcium for conditions such as osteoporosis