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PAGB urges parties to re-evaluate ‘restrictive’ switching criteria ahead of general election


PAGB urges parties to re-evaluate ‘restrictive’ switching criteria ahead of general election

The Proprietary Association of Great Britain has called on all parties ahead of the general election to include a re-evaluation of “the restrictive criteria for switching” prescription-only medicines to over-the-counter medicines in their manifestos so patients have better access to treatments.

With a general election expected to take place in the second half of this year, the PAGB, the UK trade association for manufacturers of branded over-the-counter medicines, medical devices and food supplements, urged parties to consider a number of recommendations to ensure self-care is “integral” in attempts to alleviate the pressure on the NHS.

One of those is greater reclassification of POM to OTC which the PAGB said has the potential to save the NHS £1.4 billion in avoidable prescription and appointment costs and a five per cent reduction in NHS prescribing expenditure.

The PAGB called on parties to expand access to self-care by widening the use of 25 OTC products over five years, including expanding the conditions products can be used to treat and the quantity they are available in. The PAGB told Independent Community Pharmacist it has not produced or published a list of 25 products and a spokesperson said: "It’s PAGB’s suggested goal that we’re calling for parties to include as an ambition in their manifestos."

The PAGB said it has been working with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the Department of Health and Social Care through the Reclassification Alliance to identify therapeutic areas where reclassification can take place.

The other recommendations include fully integrating community pharmacy’s role in primary care by enabling pharmacists to routinely populate patients’ medical records “to ensure a consistent and comprehensive record of an individual’s treatment,” maximising the role of pharmacy in supporting people to self-care and expanding access to OTC medicines and ensuring each primary care network has a resourced pharmacy lead to encourage “joined-up working” between GPs and community pharmacists.

The PAGB also called on the next government to engage and collaborate with the OTC sector as a priority so the UK remains an attractive place “for the OTC sector to innovate,” ensure the sector is represented on the Life Sciences Council through the PAGB and improve grant and funding opportunities for small and medium OTC businesses.

Insisting the OTC sector contributes £3.5 billion to the UK economy each year, the PAGB said its members were “experiencing challenges” with the MHRA because of “inadequate funding” and “lengthy and unpredictable processes” and called for “open and collaborative partnerships” between the regulator, government and OTC industry. The PAGB also said improving regulation by reducing bureaucratic barriers and making sure OTC products are part of innovative schemes will improve patients’ access to medicines.

PAGB CEO Michelle Riddalls said the run-up to the general election provided “an opportunity to influence a new government.”

“Our aim is to ensure that all political parties are educated on the case for prioritising self-care and are empowered with the knowledge, research and resources of the consumer healthcare industry to deliver the progress needed to support self-care, reclassification and the regulatory environment,” she said.

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