Over the Counter drugs

What are Over the Counter (OTC) drugs?

OTC medicines are classed as “general sales list (GSL)” medicines. You can buy GSL drugs from pharmacies, supermarkets and other retail outlets without the supervision of a pharmacist and without a prescription.

OTC medicines include those used to treat minor illnesses that are not serious enough to see a GP about. For example:

  • mild pain killers like paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen,
  • cold remedies and decongestants,
  • indigestion remedies.

Some OTC medicines are associated with misuse. These include:

  • Analgesics containing opioid drugs such as codeine.
  • Dextromethorphan which is an ingredient found in over-the-counter cold and cough medicines.

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