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HRT without prescription?

6th February 2007

03082006_Boots1.jpgThe Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is chairing a debate over whether to allow women to buy the pill and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) over the counter.

As part of a campaign to improve women’s health, the agency will consider making the pill and HRT more readily available as well as tests for sexually transmitted diseases and drugs used to treat heavy periods. A spokesperson for the medicine regulator said it was, “committed to making medicines more widely available where it is safe to do so?.   However, no changes could take place unless the pharmaceutical industry also complies.

New legislation introduced in 2002 has made it easier to change the classification of drugs from prescription-only medicines to those that can be sold under the direction of a pharmacist. The emergency contraceptive pill can already be bought over the counter and the government has said it is committed to giving pharmacists an increasingly bigger role in caring for the health of the nation.

The debating panel will include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, midwives and other healthcare professionals who will discuss how to improve people’s health without compromising on safety.  Dr Nigel Sparrow of the Royal College of General Practitioners highlighted the need for shared information to ensure patients don’t end up taking a lethal cocktail of drugs. "Patients can't be on drugs that their doctors don't know about," he said.  But Sadia Khan, of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, said, "Pharmacists are experts in medicines and can offer professional advice to ensure that over-the-counter medicines selected are appropriate for the individual."

 

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