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Over The Counter Initiative

Following a consultation with members of the public across Lincolnshire which ended on 18 November 2016, the four Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Groups have approved the restricting of prescribing of over the counter medicines used for short-term, self-limiting conditions, with effect from Monday 12th December 2016. 

In addition, the four CCGs – Lincolnshire East, Lincolnshire West, South West Lincolnshire and South Lincolnshire – have also approved the following restrictions/limitations, all of which were part of the medicines management consultation, also with effect from Monday 12th December:

  • To restrict the prescription of gluten-free foods – to limit prescribing to bread, flour and bread mixes only within Coeliac UK recommended quantities
  • To restrict the prescribing of baby milk including specialist infant formula
  • To restrict the prescribing of oral nutritional supplements in line with ACBS guidance

From the patient’s perspective this means that over the counter type products like paracetamol and antihistamines will no longer be prescribed for short-term, self-limiting conditions – in these instances patients will be encouraged to buy their own from their local chemist or supermarket.  Equally, only gluten-free bread, flour and bread mixes will be available on prescription, non-staple gluten-free foods, such as sweet biscuits, cake and cake mixes will not be prescribed.

The prescribing of baby milk, including specialist infant formula, will be restricted if they can be purchased by the patient themselves. However, baby milks only available on prescription for premature babies or those with long-term conditions will still be prescribed. Oral nutritional supplements will also no longer be prescribed unless for those with serious, long term conditions and patients will be encouraged to follow the ‘food first’ approach to ensure they get all their nutritional requirements from liquidized and fortified foods.    

The CCGs received over 1,400 responses to their consultation from across the county and their focus throughout the consultation has to been to ensure a robust and inclusive process has been adhered to.

Essentially patients with short-term, self-limiting conditions will be expected to buy their own over the counter medicines and products.  However, where there is a clinical need for these medicines and products to still be prescribed they will be so – i.e. where a patient’s clinical needs mean that these items still need to be prescribed, such as taking paracetamol for control of long-term chronic conditions.

It is not possible to put a figure on the likely savings that will be achieved via this restriction of prescribing, however, what can be said is that the four CCGs together spend around £16million per year on medicines available over the counter, gluten-free foods, baby milks and oral nutritional supplements.  Over time the CCGs hope to reduce this spend significantly.

For more information, including a comprehensive list of medicines and products that will be subjected to restricted prescribing, contact your local CCG.
Please click on the links below to download a copy of the A4 poster, A5 Flyer or Lincolnshire Medicines Management Consultation Report: