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Over the counter items which should not be routinely prescribed in primary care

The dashboard focuses on a list of conditions for which over the counter (OTC) items should not be routinely prescribed in primary care.

This is set out in the NHS England guidance on their website. 

The list of conditions includes those that are either:

  • considered to be self-limiting, so they do not need treatment as they’ll heal or be cured of their own accord
  • able to lend themselves to self-care. This means the person who is suffering does not normally need medical advice, they can manage the condition by buying medicine over the counter

There are categories of items included in the dashboard:

  • that can be purchased over the counter, sometimes at a lower cost what it would be through the NHS
  • where there’s little evidence of clinical effectiveness

Some products have been excluded where there would be significant prescribing for long term conditions or would be used to treat a condition, rather than as a preventative measure. For example, in the vitamins and minerals section, iron tablets, high dose vitamin D products and calcium and vitamin D products have not been included from the tag listing.

We’ve suggested proportions that may be self-care for each of the conditions. If you feel these proportions are too high or for commissioners that would like a lower target to start off with, you have the option of selecting 50% of the proportions as a starting point. Once selected, the data will automatically update based on your selection.

If you’re registered, you can access the over the counter items which should not be routinely prescribed in primary care via ePACT2.