Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists
Response to proposals on nicotine replacement therapy

The Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists represents pharmacists who work for NHS Trusts and Health Authorities and Boards throughout the UK. This response has been prepared following consultation with the Guild’s 22 members of Council, all of whom are practising pharmacists within the NHS. The response is being sent to the Department of Health in London and the Health Department of the Scottish Executive in Edinburgh.

Comments on the Proposals

1. The Guild believes that it is illogical for some of the newer nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products to be available on NHS prescription, while the majority of them are not available in this way.

2. The Guild therefore supports the proposals to remove NRT products from Schedule 10 of the NHS (General Medical Services) Regulations 1992 and Schedule 10 of the NHS (General Medical Services) (Scotland) Regulations 1995

3. However, there are several caveats to this support: -

  • In the entry in the BNF for these products, it is stated that they are an aid to smoking cessation, and should be viewed as an adjunct to counselling. The Guild believes that moving these products out of Schedule 10 is advisable, but that GPs should only prescribe these items if the patient is willing to commit to attending smoking cessation therapy.
  • In many districts, the scheme to make one week's supply of NRT available free to smokers entitled to free prescriptions has been running for less than a year. This is too short a time to assess the success or otherwise of the scheme, although early results point to its success. Pharmacists and health promotion staff have invested considerable time and energy in this scheme, and it would be a pity to see its demise if supply on prescription became the norm. It is suggested, therefore, that the voucher scheme should be introduced for all people wishing to stop smoking, with those not entitled to free prescriptions paying a prescription charge for the initial week’s supply. This could be followed by a further supply, which could be purchased or on prescription as appropriate.
4. We would not support the further transfer of NRT products to the General Sales List, as we believe that these are medicinal products which should be available only where the support and advice of a healthcare professional is also available.

We hope that these comments are useful, and we would be happy to have further discussions with the Health Departments to expand on any of the points made.


Ian G. Simpson FRPharmS
Professional Secretary
Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists

24th January 2001

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