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More medicine prescriptions face being axed as part of huge cost-cutting mission

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Prescriptions for over-the-counter medicines such as paracetemol could be scrapped as part of a national cash-saving mission.

The painkillers notoriously cost the NHS far more than is charged in supermarkets, shops, and pharmacies, and it is hoped stopping GPs for prescribing them could save £136 million.

Health commissioners in Blackpool previously proposed a ban on certain medicines readily-available over-the-counter and at supermarkets, and said some prescriptions are now only available at GPs’ discretion.

The latest consultation could see new guidelines handed down to commissioners, which is likely to see some changes on the Fylde coast, it is understood.

Travel sickness pills, vitamins and minerals, and dandruff and insect bite treatment are all on the 33-item hitlist. Heartburn medicine, earwax treatment, and cold sore cream are also featured.

Dr Graham Jackson, co-chairman of NHS Clinical Commissioners, said it was ‘important to have an honest conversation’ about what the NHS can provide on its limited budget.

He said: “As part of that, it is right we review what is currently offered on NHS prescription that is also available over-the-counter so we can prioritise our spending on those products that are the most clinically effective and provide the best outcomes.”

Blackpool CCG has already scrapped certain treatments and procedures to save money, and called on GPs to prescribe paracetamol only when necessary. It also reduced the number of treatments available under the minor ailments scheme.

Alongside Fylde and Wyre CCG, it also axed prescriptions for gluten-free foods.

Paracetamol, which reportedly costs the NHS £10.31 to prescribe, costs just 19p at Asda, price comparison website Mysupermarket.com showed yesterday.

NHS England boss Simon Stevens, left, said: “To do the best for our patients and for taxpayers it’s vital the NHS uses its funding well.”

* To have your say on the proposals, go online to www.fyldeandwyreccg.nhs/over-counter-medicines or www.tinyurl.com/ycb2agb9 before Wednesday, March 14.