From today, UK patients taking the anti-sickness drug domperidone will only be able to access it with a prescription from their doctor.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has switched the drug’s status from over-the-counter to prescription only, on the back of fears over its potential cardiac side effects.

Earlier this year the regulator issued a warning about domperidone after a European Medicines Agency review found that people taking the drug may have a small increased risk of potentially life-threatening heart effects.

This concluded that, while the drug’s benefits still outweighed its risks when treating nausea and vomiting, it should no longer be used to treat heartburn, bloating or relief of stomach discomfort, and should be given at lowest effective dose for the shortest possible duration.

Domperidone’s switch to prescription-only comes on the back of advice from the Commission on Human Medicines, noting that while pharmacists can manage the majority of risks identified with this medicine, they would not routinely have access to a patient’s full medical history and therefore could not quickly and accurately assess which patients were at risk from side effects.