John Smith, PAGB Chief Executive comments:
“In the UK, a wide range of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, both branded and generic, are available to buy from pharmacies and other retail outlets. This ensures people are able to choose a medicine which suits their needs and their budget.
“Branded OTC medicines enjoy a long-standing heritage of trust and manufacturers invest heavily in research and product development. In order for a medicine to be granted a licence, manufacturers must provide robust evidence to show it is effective before it can be sold in pharmacies and other retail stores.
“The manufacturers behind the well-known brands are often first to bring medicines to market with benefits such as a faster onset of action, prolonged duration or products that were previously only available on prescription. As Which? points out, some OTC products are marketed to target specific symptoms, this because having these displayed on the front of the pack helps people choose a suitable product more easily, particularly in a shop where there isn’t a pharmacist to ask.
“Unlike new prescription drugs, which enjoy lengthy patent protection, it is exceedingly rare for new OTC medicines to have any form of protection once launched. Other companies are then free to produce and sell copies or generics at a lower price, because they don’t have to carry out the research and development. It is for these reasons of commercial confidentiality that detailed data on product efficacy is only shared with regulators.
“We support the Which? recommendation to always read the label and if people are still unsure, they should consult a pharmacist. Pharmacists are expert healthcare professionals who can provide information and support to help you to self care.”