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Medicines that cost less over the counter


Many medicines which can be prescribed in the Health Service can be bought directly over the counter (OTC) for less than the prescription charge (£2.80). Without asking a pharmacist, patients or doctors cannot easily discover which medicines are cheaper OTC, but those who pay prescription charges may want to know, to save time and money; those exempt from the charges can save only time. The quantity of medicine required and the pack sizes available clearly determine any price comparison; very few medicines are cheaper OTC if large quantities are used. Prescription is in any case desirable when an OTC medicine is needed long-term. The occasion to buy from a pharmacy arises when the doctor or the pharmacist tells the patient that the medicine is cheaper OTC, or when the patient already knows this.

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