07:49pm Saturday 18 January 2020

Sales of painkillers – help for retailers

The guidance outlines that no more than two packs should be sold in one transaction and discourages retailers from promoting offers that encourage the sale of more than one pack at a time.

These guidelines are the result of the MHRA working with stakeholders who represent both large and small retailers, pharmacists, trading standards offices and the pharmaceutical industry, as well as the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The maximum pack size for pain relief medicines in a general sale outlet is 16 tablets or capsules. A pharmacy may sell larger packs containing up to 32 tablets or capsules under the supervision of a pharmacist.

Medicines legislation states that it is illegal to sell more than 100 tablets or capsules of either paracetamol or aspirin in any one retail transaction.

MHRA Director of Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicines, Dr June Raine, said that restricting the availability of these medicines had proved to be effective in reducing the harm from accidental or intentional overdose, estimated from number of deaths and hospital admissions.

“By clearly stating ‘best practice’ for sale of these medications, it will ensure that retailers are meeting a customer’s immediate need for pain relief while helping to minimise stockpiling and the risk of overdose.”

ACS Chief Executive James Lowman said, “Retailers welcome guidance from the experts and this best practice will be widely publicised and will reinforce the generally accepted practice in local shops.”

Graham Wynn, BRC Assistant Director for Consumer, Competition and Regulatory Affairs said, “The BRC is happy to support guidance that helps retailers who sell painkillers to do so in the best possible way.”

Notes to Editor

  1. Please see the hyperlink to the ‘Best practice on the sale of medicines for pain relief’PDF file (opens in new window) (22Kb). This guidance does not prevent reduced price offers on single packs. Further advice on these voluntary restrictions is available from your trade association, local trading standards office or from the MHRA Information Centre at info@mhra.gsi.gov.uk.
  2. The ACS is the voice of local shops, representing over 33,500 convenience stores. ACS helps local shops thrive through lobbying, support and networking opportunities. For all enquiries regarding the ACS, please contact Chris Noice on 01252 515001, or by emailing chris.noice@acs.org.uk.
  3. The BRC is the retail trade association representing the entire range of retailing – large multiples and department stores, small independents, food and non-food, store-based and online. For media enquiries, please contact the BRC Press Office on 020 7854 8924.
  4. The MHRA is the government agency responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work, and are acceptably safe. No product is risk-free. Underpinning all our work lie robust and fact-based judgments to ensure that the benefits to patients and the public justify the risks. We keep watch over medicines and devices, and take any necessary action to protect the public promptly if there is a problem. We encourage everyone – the public and healthcare professionals as well as the industry – to tell us about any problems with a medicine or medical device, so that we can investigate and take any necessary action.

Download documents:

Contact: Press Office 020 7084 3651/3166
or press.office@mhra.gsi.gov.uk
Out-of-hours 07770 446 189

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