Medicines and products that can be bought without a prescription

The NHS in Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster spent over £13 million in 2016 on products that can be bought without a prescription at community pharmacies.

The NHS is under pressure. Our budgets are not large enough to pay for all the treatments we would like to purchase.

We would like to spend less on medicines you can buy without a prescription so as to free up funds for other valuable NHS services.  So practices across North West London will no longer routinely prescribe medicines which are available to buy over the counter in pharmacies (and, in the case of some medicines, in supermarkets and other shops too).

If a medicine you need can be bought without a prescription, your GP may ask if you are willing to buy it.  If you are not, it will be prescribed.

This also means that if you require that medicine again you don’t need to make a doctor’s appointment but can get it straight from your community pharmacist, saving both you and the doctor time.

Click here to see the list of medicines to which this applies. 

When you buy one of these medicines at a pharmacy, it is worth asking for the least expensive form of the medicine.

National guidance on prescribing over the counter (OTC) medicines is likely to arrive at some stage after spring 2018.  NW London CCGs expect to align their approach with national guidance if and when such guidance is published.

The approach of North West London CCGs’ enables everyone who needs one of these medicines to get it.

The following groups will not be asked if they will pay for a prescription:

  • School children, if the product needs to be given at school
  • Care home residents
  • Individuals with funded care packages where a carer is required to administer a medicine or product
  • Anyone officially declared homeless
  • People with a diagnosis of dementia
  • People with a diagnosed learning disability.​ 

The cost of medicines

A list of example medicines with their approximate retail prices can be found here

Repeat prescriptions

Click here to find out how to order your repeat prescriptions. 

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