The UK is among the most progressive when it comes to a culture of self-management of common medical conditions by reclassifying prescription medicines to non-prescription, a study shows.
Researchers from the University of Auckland compared the switching of medicines from prescription only to non-prescription in six countries – the UK, New Zealand, the United States, Japan, the Netherlands and Australia, and published their findings in PLOS ONE
(online, 24 September 2014).
They found that the UK and New Zealand were the “most progressive” in terms of encouraging patients to self-treat. New Zealand was most active in reclassifying medicines with an established safety protocol from prescription to non-prescription, followed closely by the UK and Japan.
The study showed that few prescription medicines for long-term conditions had been switched to non-prescription and that the times taken to change the status of medicines varied considerably between countries.
The variations in switching rates across the six countries suggested that some health systems may be “unnecessarily burdened” by conditions which could be reasonably self-managed or managed by pharmacists.
 Gauld NJ, Kelly FS, Kurosawa N, et al. (2014) Widening Consumer Access to Medicines through Switching Medicines to Non-Prescription: A Six Country Comparison. PLoS ONE 9(9): e107726. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107726