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Medicines that can be purchased

It is estimated that the Vale of York spends approximately £½million on medications that can be purchased from either Community Pharmacies or from supermarkets without the need for a prescription from your doctor.

Our policy on medicines that can be purchased outlines the circumstances in which it may be more appropriate for a patient to seek advice from a Community Pharmacist and buy their medicines without the need for a prescription.

Brand medicine prescribing

The names of medicines can often be confusing as the same medicine can sometimes be called different things. Many medicines have two names:

The brand name

This is given to a medicine by the pharmaceutical company it is developed by.

For example, atorvastatin is the generic name of a medicine used to treat high cholesterol.

However, the company that makes atorvastatin, Pfizer, sells it under the brand name Lipitor®.

The generic name

Named for the active ingredient of the medicine, which is decided by an expert committee.

Both medicines have the same clinical effect, but each separate manufacturer can give it a different name. It is similar to buying branded goods or a supermarket's own label – both products do the same job, but the supermarket's own version is usually more cost-effective.

Unnecessary prescribing of branded medicines can cost the NHS up to 26 times the cost of the equivalent generic products.

There are circumstances when it is clinically necessary to prescribe by brand name, and these are outlined in the policy. The policy also outlines when it is and is not appropriate to prescribe a medicine by a brand name and explains the process that prescribers should follow when a patient wants a branded product with no clinical need for a branded product.

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