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Press release: First Over The Counter (OTC) migraine pill made available

Press release

Date: 19 May 2006
Time: 09:00
Subject: Migraine pill made available
Contact: Press Office 020 3080 7651
or press.office@mhra.gsi.gov.uk
Out-of-hours 07770 446 189

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) today announced that the medicine Imigran Recovery (sumatriptan) could be safely sold through pharmacies without a prescription for the acute relief of migraine attacks.

This move represents the first ‘triptan’ that can be given without a prescription in the UK and highlights the Government’s commitment to expand the range of medicines available for self-medication. Being able to purchase this medicine in a pharmacy will enable patients to take control of their own healthcare by accessing treatment straight away without having to spend time visiting their doctor.

Chief Executive of the MHRA, Professor Kent Woods said, “The ability to buy these medicines in a pharmacy under carefully controlled conditions will enable patients to get treatment straight away and will reduce the burden of migraine. As triptans should be taken as early as possible in a migraine attack, the pharmacy availability of these important medicines will be beneficial to patients who suffer from migraines, especially those who have infrequent attacks and may not always have prescription medicines to hand.”

Chairman of the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), Professor Gordon Duff said, “The first consideration with any switch to over the counter (OTC) availability must always be patient safety.  Before a medicine can be made more widely available, it is assessed against strict criteria relating to its safety in the circumstances in which it will be used. Sumatriptan has been available in the UK since 1991 on prescription and the safety profile is well established.” 

Notes to Editor

1. The move follows a public consultation exercise which started in August 2005.

2. 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 judgements 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.

Page last modified: 19 May 2006