New Guidance – NHS England OTC Information

NHS England guidance to reduce prescribing of ‘over the counter’ medicines for minor health conditions

In March, NHSE launched their guidance to reduce prescribing of ‘over the counter’ (OTC) medicines for minor health conditions[i] and the Clinical Commissioning Groups in Devon have made a decision to implement the guidance in full.

The guidance advises that OTC medication should not be routinely prescribed in primary care for 35 minor, or self-limiting conditions. The conditions have been included for one of the following reasons:

  • It is self-limiting and does not require medical advice or treatment as it will clear up on its own
  • It is a minor illness and is suitable for self-care and treatment with items that can easily be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy

Vitamins, minerals and probiotics are also included as there is a lack of robust evidence to show clinical effectiveness

There are exceptions to the guidance including:

  • Where treatment is for a long-term condition
  • The OTC medicine is being used to treat a side effect of a prescription medicine or symptom of another illness
  • The OTC medicine has a licence which doesn’t allow the product to be sold over the counter to certain groups of patients
  • The person prescribing thinks that a patient cannot treat themselves, for example because of mental health problems or severe social vulnerability.

The conditions include dry eyes, hayfever and conjunctivitis as well as vitamins and minerals and we would ask for your support in implementing the guidance so that patients receive consistent messages.

Further details, including patient information leaflets, are available on the CCG websites:




The committee have decided to limit the social media activity to Twitter to ensure messages are kept current.