NHS England intends to save £100 million by reducing prescribing of over-the-counter medicines. The new over the counter medicines guidance will limit the routine prescribing of products that are for:
- A self-limiting condition, which does not require any medical advice or treatment as it will clear up on its own, such as sore throats, coughs and colds
- A condition that is suitable for self-care, which can be treated with items that can easily be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy, such as indigestion, mouth ulcers and warts and verrucae.
Vitamins/minerals and probiotics have also been included in the consultation proposals as items of limited clinical effectiveness which are of high cost to the NHS. In the year prior to June 2017, the NHS spent approximately £569 million on prescriptions for medicines which can be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy and other outlets such as supermarkets.
It is expected that the freed funds will be used for frontline care.