POM to P to P+
There are three classes of medicine in our health system and to date this structure appears to be pretty straightforward and has worked pretty well.
POM is a 'prescription only medicine’, prescribed by your GP and dispensed by your pharmacist. P is a 'pharmacy’ medicine, those drugs that sit behind the counter and are only dished out following a few qualifying questions - Nytol for instance. While GSL 'general sales list’ is, well, pretty much everything else that sits on the shelves within the shop.
I find it a little confusing then, that the healthcare watchdog, the MHRA, has announced suggestion of a fourth category - a 'P+’. Its purpose, from what I can see following a third re-read of the announcement, is to cover drugs that are supplied only through pharmacist intervention…
I say a third re-read as I’m pretty convinced that what the MHRA is suggesting already exists; A P med by any other name is still a P med. A re-labelling process that also appears to have bemused the pharmacists that I have spoken to on the matter.
Maybe the issue is that the questioning has got rather lax, or perhaps that the reclassifying journey from POM to GSL is too swift (oral ibuprofen was originally a POM back in 1983) and is putting us all at risk.
If this is the case then I suggest that Jeremy Hunt has a good long chat with pharmacists (should he do this he will have already torn strips off his predecessor) and work on best practice, standard operating procedures and ensure that proper pharmacist / patient engagement is taking place. If the MHRA had wanted another P they should have gone before they left.