Folder Over The Counter products (OTC)



Over The Counter (OTC) Medicines

In the year prior to June 2017, the NHS spent approximately £569 million on prescriptions for medicines which could otherwise be purchased over the counter (OTC) from a pharmacy and/or other outlets such as petrol stations or supermarkets. 

 These prescriptions include items for a condition:

  • That is considered to be self-limiting and so does not need treatment as it will heal or be cured of its own accord;
  • Which lends itself to self-care i.e. the person suffering does not normally need to seek medical advice and can manage the condition by purchasing OTC items directly.  

These prescriptions also include other common items:

  • That can be purchased over the counter, sometimes at a lower cost than that which would be incurred by the NHS;
  • For which there is little evidence of clinical effectiveness.

By reducing spend on treating conditions that are self-limiting or which lend themselves to self-care, or on items for which there is little evidence of clinical effectiveness, these resources can be used for other higher priority areas that have a greater impact for patients, support improvements in services and/or deliver transformation that will ensure the long-term sustainability of the NHS.

Over the Counter and Gluten Free prescribing

From 1st October 2018 all GF foods and Over The Counter (OTC) medicines for mild, self-limiting conditions have been added to the Herefordshire CCG treatment policy as interventions with low clinical value  and should not routinely be prescribed for Herefordshire patients.  This policy update moves Herefordshire into line with other local CCGs ie Worcestershire, Shropshire and Gloucestershire to ensure patient equity across the NHS.

Herefordshire CCG Treatment Policy (HCCG0059)

Gloucestershire CCG OTC statement and YouTube video

Worcestershire CCG OTC policy document:

NHS England information for CCGs:

Quick reference guidance for healthcare professionals from NHSE:

Herefordshire CCG statement around prescribing of Gluten Free foods:


document OTC & GFF staff slide pack ( pptx, 1.27 MB ) (29 downloads)
pdf OTC FAQs October 2018 ( pdf, 250 KB ) (95 downloads)
pdf OTC guidance for CCGs March 2018 ( pdf, 614 KB ) (318 downloads) Popular