COVID-19 and consumer healthcare


How is PAGB responding to the coronavirus? What is the impact on OTC medicines? How can people self care?


Throughout the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, people have been asked to stay at home and practise self care as far as possible for themselves and their families.

As NHS services seek to recover and restart, how can we make sure that positive changes in self care behaviour are sustained?

Our policy paper The future of the NHS: Self care during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic explores the importance of self care in the context of COVID-19, and considers how the shift to self care can be accelerated in the immediate response to the pandemic.


Watch our latest video about how PAGB has been supporting the sector during this period

Content posted on this page is intended to provide an overview of COVID-19 and self care. 

PAGB’s regulatory advice for members on COVID-19 issues is being posted to a dedicated section of our website, which is restricted to members only (log-in required). This includes a comprehensive blog of COVID-19-related regulatory information and policy announcements of specific relevance to the consumer healthcare industry such as MHRA guidance, international developments and Government updates to legislation, guidance and advice. 


COVID-19 became a major concern to Governments and health systems across the world within a short time of the first cases being identified.

It was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 11 March 2020 and in the following days the UK Government began implementing measures to restrict the spread of the virus including advising people to stay indoors; closing schools, non-essential businesses and places where people gather; and making provision for more capacity in the health service. On 26 March 2020, the Government passed emergency legislation, The Coronavirus Act 2020, to enable it to respond to the virus.

The scale of the impact of COVID-19 on the NHS quickly became clear. Healthcare professionals in primary care and pharmacy remain firmly on the front line of the response to the virus.

Official sources of guidance

For direct access to official advice on COVID-19 follow the links below:

In the news

PAGB statements on COVID-19 are posted on our news page here.  Recent statements include:

OTC products and coronavirus

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, ensuring that people have access to effective and appropriate self care has become more important than ever before.

It is vital that those who do not need hospital care can alleviate symptoms as far as possible at home with over-the-counter products, taken according to instructions on packaging and patient information. These include products containing paracetamol or ibuprofen, as recommended by the Government in its official COVID-19 advice.


pharmacist and stock

Early on in the pandemic, the Government took the welcome decision to include producers and distributors of medicines in the ‘key worker’ category, along with so many others involved in health and social care at such a challenging time. Read our statement on this.

Regulatory flexibilities

Ensuring there is access to medicines and medical devices such as over-the-counter products for symptom relief and medical devices used to diagnose coronavirus is of critical importance.

PAGB represented its members in discussions with MHRA on identifying additional regulatory flexibilities that could be implemented to support the healthcare products supply chain and wider response to COVID-19 in the UK. Additional flexibilities published so far are available on the MHRA website and cover medical devices, medicines regulation and pharmacovigilance.

More detailed information on PAGB’s work in this area is available to members via our COVID-19 news page and in our regulatory intelligence updates. (PAGB members only)


The Life Sciences Recovery Roadmap

PAGB co-signed a joint report to the Life Sciences COVID-19 Response Group, a ministerial group co-Chaired by Lord Bethell and Nadhim Zahawi MP.

It sets out policy recommendations that will capitalise on progress made on research, diagnostics, supply and innovation in delivery of healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Roadmap is a collaboration between trade bodies representing the life sciences and charity research sectors.

The pharmaceutical industry response

Our members are manufacturers of over-the-counter medicines, medical devices and food supplements. As companies operating in the life sciences sector, many of whom have their own research functions, they are well placed to use their resources and expertise to support efforts to develop diagnostics and treatments for this new virus. PAGB members are collaborating with other companies and institutions in the UK and globally on testing, treatments, vaccines, PPE and more. Consumer healthcare companies are also supporting NHS, pharmacy and other local groups to deliver support to people in communities across the country,


The Global Self Care Federation is collecting information about the global consumer healthcare industry response to the coronavirus here.

The ABPI maintains a list of current activity being undertaken by the UK life science community and how this is contributing to better understanding of the virus. It has compiled a really useful guide to pharmaceutical sector involvement in the COVID-19 effort; visit the ABPI webpage What are pharmaceutical companies doing to tackle COVID-19? to find out more.

Self care and coronavirus

PAGB and its members in the consumer healthcare industry support the Government’s advice on social distancing and good hygiene to reduce the risk of infection with coronavirus. Self care is now even more important to every one of us, and to reducing pressure on the NHS.

There are several simple steps we can take to maintain good health and well-being while adhering to the Government’s restrictions on movement. Over-the-counter medicines, medical devices and food supplements can also support people to relieve symptoms such as paracetamol for fever and pain relief, cough products to soothe a cough, or throat remedies for sore throat.

Self care during the pandemic

Pharmacists and self care

Pharmacists and self care

We know that the expertise and information provided by pharmacists, along with access to appropriate over-the-counter medicines, plays a huge part in helping people care for themselves and their families and relieving strain on other parts of the NHS.

Pharmacists are at the front line of the coronavirus and are working around the clock to ensure people get the medication they need. We support the important work of pharmacy organisations, PSNC, RPS, NPA, CCA and AIM who are supporting pharmacy colleagues with resilience resources, guidance and practical advice on opening and pharmacy funding.

Reliable online advice

Where possible, people should seek advice from reliable online sources including:

People experiencing symptoms which could be the COVID-19 virus, are advised not to visit the GP or pharmacy, instead to go online to NHS 111.

Where can I find out more?

For more information about PAGB’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, contact