Over The Counter (OTC) Medicines

Self Care Queen's Park Medical Centre is committed to delivering best value by ensuring that we use our resources well. Therefore to help us to support the cost effective, evidence based use of medicines, we no longer routinely prescribe health supplements and medications that can be bought over the counter for self-limiting, short-term illnesses and minor conditions. By managing minor health needs through self-care, it will help to ease the pressure on the NHS. Self-care is about avoiding becoming ill and seeking help when needed. This is line with the NHS England Guidance for CCGs. 'Conditions for which over the counter medicines should not be routinely prescribed in primary care'

What treatments and preparations are included?

  • Pharmacy Only (P) and General Sales Lists (GSL) treatments that can be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy with or without advice.
  • GSL treatments (including a patient information leaflet) that can be purchased from other retail outlets such as supermarkets, petrol stations, convenience and discount stores.
  • Treatments that are used to treat a condition that is considered to be self-limiting and so does not need treatment as it will heal/resolve by itself; and/or
  • Treatments that are used to treat a condition which lends itself to self-care, i.e. that the person suffering does not normally need to seek medical care and/or treatment for the condition.

Examples of treatments available over the counter that will no longer be routinely prescribed on the NHS (This list is not exhaustive):

  • Acne treatment
  • Analgesic/pain relief treatment (short term pain, fever, headache, muscle/joint injury, infrequent migraine)
  • Anti-inflammatory gels e.g. ibuprofen for short term use
  • Anti-fungal treatment (athlete's foot, oral and vaginal thrush, ring worm, dandruff)
  • Antiperspirant treatment (excessive sweating)
  • Antiseptic creams and treatment for minor burns and scalds
  • Cold sore treatment
  • Colic treatment
  • Constipation treatment for short term use
  • Cough, cold and sore throat treatment
  • Cradle cap treatment
  • Diarrhoea treatment for short term use
  • Ear wax remover
  • Emollient bath oils and shower gels
  • Eye treatments/lubricating products (Conjunctivitis/ dry eyes)
  • Fluoride containing products for prevention of dental caries
  • Haemorrhoid (piles) treatment
  • Hayfever treatment
  • Head lice treatment
  • Herbal and complementary treatments
  • Homeopathic preparations
  • Indigestion and heartburn (dyspepsia) treatment
  • Mild cystitis treatment
  • Moisturising Creams, gels, ointments and balms for dry skin with no diagnosis
  • Mouth ulcer treatment and treatment for teething
  • Mouthwash e.g. Corsodyl
  • Nappy rash treatment
  • Probiotics
  • Rubefacients
  • Sunburn treatment
  • Suncream
  • Threadworm treatment
  • Topical steroid treatment for insect bites/stings, contact dermatitis, nappy rash
  • Travel sickness treatment
  • Vitamins and minerals including low dose Vitamin D and Lutein and antioxidants
  • Wart and verruca treatment

What general exclusions apply?

  • Medicines that can only be obtained with an NHS prescription - Prescription Only Medicines (POM)
  • Where an OTC medicine is to be used outside of its marketing authorisation, also known as "off-label use" or "unlicensed use". For example when it is not licensed for use during pregnancy or where age or existing medical condition restrictions apply
  • Where an OTC medicine is being prescribed for a long-term (chronic) condition e.g. regular analgesia in osteoarthritis
  • Frail or housebound patients
Community Pharmacists are experts in medicines who can help you manage minor illnesses. Further information about what to expect from your community pharmacy team is available here.

My child's school won't administer over the counter medicines for my child without a prescription. What should I do?

Write to the school giving permission for your child to take the medicine.  Guidance from the Department of Education makes it clear that a child can take non-prescription self-care medicines with written permission from a parent or guardian.  It is not necessary for GPs to write to schools to confirm that it is appropriate to administer self-care medicines.

The age at which children are ready to take their own medicines varies. As children grow and develop, they should be encouraged to participate in decisions about their medicines and take responsibility for their own medicines.

Further information about prescriptions for over the counter medicines is available here.