Plans to allow the sale of medicines on planes and trains have hit a snag, after several pharmacy groups voiced concerns over the proposal.

Last month the Medicines and Healthcare products Regualtory Agency (MHRA) opened a public consultation into extending the scope of General Sale List (GSL) medicines, those which can be sold or supplied with reasonable safety at non-pharmacy premises such as supermarkets and petrol stations.

The move came on the back of the government's Red Tape Challenge to slash bureaucracy, and the MHRA noted at the time that an informal consultation indicated potential benefits for public health increasing the availability of some medicines, such as nicotine replacement products on a long-haul flights, for example. 

But the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said it does not support the move.

"Medicines should only be sold where a pharmacist or other health professional is available to give advice and ensure patient safety," it stressed, and urged caution "where medicines are being sold as an extra profit making enterprise which has little added patient benefit". 

The Society also asked how the safety of international travellers could be assured with UK-licensed medicines and patient information leaflets being available only in English.

Sales on Eurostar?

Pharmacy Voice has asked the MHRA to clarify whether GSL products will be allowed on Eurostar and if so, will they be permitted throughout the journey or just while the train is in UK territory, as well as clarification on as to the jurisdiction of the sale such medicines on planes.

It also makes the point that some countries have very strict restrictions on the availability and importation of medicines, including some which are licensed as GSL in this country, and asks whether airlines will be given guideline to manage the sale of these on flights into these countries.

The Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists - which represents around 4,000 pharmacists across the UK - said its main concern would be the distance that the individual would be from immediate medical attention should this be required.

The consultation closes on June 25.