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What is a pharmacy medicine?

Illustration of tablets and bottles in diagonal lines on a green background
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Have you ever wondered why some medicines are only available under the supervision of a pharmacist after you’ve answered a number of questions either online or in-store? These medicines are known as pharmacy medicines - read on to find out what they can be used for and whether they’re safe to take.

What does pharmacy medicine mean?

A pharmacy medicine, also known as a P-medicine is a medicine that can only be bought from a pharmacy either online or in-store, like LloydsPharmacy. Pharmacy medicines can be intended for short-term or long-term use and treatment of health conditions, such as pain, acne or hay fever.

Some of the most common pharmacy medicines include:

When you order online or buy in your local pharmacy, you’ll need to answer a few simple questions. to make sure the medicine is right for you. The pharmacist or an appropriately trained team member, under the supervision of the pharmacist, will help to determine the best treatment for your illness, they may also refer you to a GP for more advice.

How do I know a medicine is a pharmacy medicine?

In store pharmacy medicines will be kept behind the counter or locked in clear boxes and are marked with a “P” on their packaging. This is so you speak to a trained member of the pharmacy team before trying to buy this medicine. They’ll ask you some questions, for example your age and if you’re on any medication to make sure the pharmacy medicine is safe for you to take.

When buying medicines online you’ll usually see a small green cross on the product picture and a message on the product page, which shows that they’re pharmacy only.

Illustrated blue pharmacy medicine box with green cross icon

On our site look out for an alert box saying you’ll need to answer a few short questions and that a pharmacist will check these.

Illustrated image of a blue pharmacy medicine box with pop up message

Are pharmacy medicines safe to take?

Pharmacy medicines can only be bought from a registered pharmacy premises whether online or on the high street. To make sure pharmacy medicines are safe for you to use, you’ll be asked some questions or asked to fill in an online questionnaire. You need to be honest when completing a questionnaire or speaking to a member of the pharmacy team. This means the pharmacist or an appropriately trained member of the pharmacy team, under the supervision of the pharmacist checking your order online or in store can make sure it’s suitable for your individual needs.

What questions will I be asked?

The questions you’ll be asked in store or online may differ depending on the medication you have selected or the symptoms you are trying to treat. The questions help to assess your needs and ensure the product is safe for you to use.

Questions can include:

  • Who the medicine is for
  • The age of the person using the medicine
  • Any symptoms you or the person you’re buying has and how long they’ve had them
  • Any other medication you or the person you’re buying for is taking
  • Any medical conditions you or the person you’re buying for may have

These questions are necessary for the sale of any over the counter pharmacy medicines. For LloydsPharmacy online, a registered pharmacist will check your online order to make sure the product is right for you. In-store a pharmacist or an appropriately trained member of the pharmacy team, under the supervision of the pharmacist, will listen to you and help you find the right treatment.

Do pharmacy medicines have side effects?

As with all medicines side effects and adverse reactions can occur. That’s why it’s important to read all packaging and product descriptions carefully. It’s also important to answer any questions truthfully whether online or in-store.

Can I get stronger medication without seeing a GP?

Pharmacy medicines (P-medicines) can be bought over the counter without a prescription. Which means you may not always need to see your GP for treatment, instead you can speak to a pharmacist about your needs.

Can I buy a pharmacy medicine online?

Pharmacy medicines can be bought online. Simply choose the treatment and answer a few confidential questions. Your answer will be reviewed by a pharmacist so they can make sure the product is safe for you to take. Your answers and personal information are private and secure.

Can I buy a pharmacy medicine for someone else?

Yes, you can buy a pharmacy medicine for someone else. For example, you may need headlice lotion for a child. When buying online make sure to state in your answers who the medicine is for and fill in the answers with their details such as their age. You can also buy worming treatment and medicines for you pets.

What’s the difference between a pharmacy medicine and a prescription medicine?

Prescription medicines can only be obtained with a valid prescription, prescribed by an authorised healthcare professional, such as a GP. Whereas pharmacy medicines can be bought ‘over the counter’ without a prescription from a registered pharmacy either in store or online. Both pharmacy medicines and prescription medicines are available under pharmacist’s supervision.

References

www.gov.uk/guidance/medicines-reclassify-your-product
www.nhs.uk/conditions/medicines-information