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Views From The Front Line

Benedict Lam

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Benedict Lam
Pharmacist. The Pharmaceutical Journal

The UK is one of the leaders in prescription only to pharmacy (POM-to-P) medicine switches. Before Levonelle was made available in pharmacies, it was a lot less convenient for women to obtain emergency contraception because there was no alternative other than a trip to the GP. This was often frustrating and stressful.

I cannot remember the number of times when a woman has been grateful for being able to obtain emergency hormonal contraception on, say, a Bank Holiday or late in the evening, or that they were delighted to have been able to talk about their concerns and worries in private and walk out of the pharmacy feeling relieved. A bit of reassurance from an accessible healthcare professional goes a long way.

We need to see more appropriate POM-to-P switches in the UK over the next 20 years, having seen at first-hand the positive impact of making medicines more accessible to the public via pharmacies. I am proud that, in the UK, pharmacists can offer treatments for ailments from migraines, conjunctivitis, gastric reflux to thrush. Making more medicines available in pharmacies will also help drive self-care. Perhaps more importantly though, it can encourage those who are sick to seek help in pharmacies rather than seeing their GP or visiting over-burdened accident and emergency departments. Relieving pressure on an already overstretched NHS is something we must all work towards in the coming decades.