The UK's drugs regulator yesterday issued a proposal that would see GlaxoSmithKline’s migraine drug Imigran/Imitrex (sumatriptan) and AstraZeneca’s Zomig (zolmitriptan) switched from prescription-only to Pharmacy status – making them available over the counter to patients.

The statement follows a move last year to switch Merck & Co’s cholesterol-lowering drug Zocor (simvastatin) to over the counter [[30/07/04a]]. However, the decision was battered by opponents who claimed the public were being used as guinea pigs in a Government "cost-cutting exercise” [[14/05/04d]]. And, back in June, an MHRA survey finding that two-thirds of consumers were in favour of switching lipid-lowering drugs to Pharmacy status was, in fact, revealed as incorrect: just one-third backed the move but an “administrative error” meant it was reported as two-thirds [[09/06/05a]].

However, this latest OTC switch appears to have garnered more support. Sue Kilby of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, commented: “Proposals such as this provide significant opportunities for greater patient choice and recognise the important role pharmacists play in helping people to access advice and treatment in a safe, effective and convenient way.”