The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has reclassified the antimalarial Maloff Protect (atovaquone/proguanil hydrochloride) to make it available from a pharmacist without a prescription.
The decision follows a public consultation on the medicine, which now joins chloroquine and/or proguanil in drugs not requiring a doctor’s prescription.
Pharmacists will be able to dispense Maloff Protect to adults weighing 40kg and over who are travelling to malaria-prevalent areas.
They will have to make sure the drug will be effective for the geographical area being visited, as well as ask customers about their pre-existing medical conditions and other medicines they are taking. The MHRA says patients should begin taking the tablets before travelling to the affected region and continue taking them for seven days after they return.
Martin Astbury, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), says the decision is good for pharmacists and travellers.
“It means people travelling abroad can access the medicine at their convenience and without a prescription from their GP, which [will] undoubtedly result in better access to protection from malaria,” says Astbury.
He notes that pharmacists already offer travel advice and some vaccinations.
“Malaria prevention is a well-established area of expertise for pharmacists and a great opportunity to provide full travel advice to people travelling anywhere in the world. Pharmacists have access to up-to-date information and resources, and are very well equipped to provide this medicine safely and appropriately.”
The RPS will be issuing guidance for pharmacists on malaria prevention shortly.