Residents asked to buy painkillers rather than relying on prescriptions

Black Country residents who need Paracetamol or Ibuprofen are being encouraged to buy it over the counter rather than have it prescribed to them by their GP.

NHS Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are encouraging people to buy medicines over the counter after research carried out by ePACT, showed spending of over £400,000 on certain drugs in 2016/17.


Paracetamol and Ibuprofen can be purchased in local pharmacies or supermarkets. These often have extended opening times, therefore allowing rapid access and early treatment, rather than waiting to attend a GP appointment for a prescription. Family doctors issued more than 21.7 million prescriptions of the everyday painkillers in 2016 at a cost of £3.23 per item - despite the pills being sold for as little as 19p in supermarkets.


Requesting a prescription for Paracetamol from your GP costs the NHS over four times as much compared to over the counter purchases. Money spent on these prescriptions could fund other treatments such as those used for Alzheimers, or breast cancer. Dr Anand Rischie, Chair of NHS Walsall CCG said:


“Funding of medicines available to purchase to treat self-limiting conditions and minor aliments should be a personal responsibility. All patients should be able to access and purchase such medicines.


"A range of resources are available, which give advice on medicines such as community pharmacists and NHS 111, both of which can be used to enable self-care before seeking advice from a GP or nurse. However if patients are regularly using over the counter medicines for a long term condition it may be reasonable for GPs to continue prescribing them.”


NHS England recently reviewed its guidance regarding low value prescriptions with a public consultation. Results from the consultation can be read here.  


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