Appendix 11: Legal classification of medicines
There are various legal controls on the retail sale or supply of medicines which are set out in the Medicines Act 1968. Medicines are classified into three categories - Prescription Only ( POM), Pharmacy (P) or General Sale List ( GSL). Each category is subject to a number of controls. These controls apply to medicines sold or supplied by retail whether they are sold or supplied via internet transactions, by mail order, or any other form of supply. The general rule is that all licensed medicines are P unless otherwise designated.
Prescription Only Medicine ( POM):
These medicines may be sold or supplied only from a registered pharmacy and in accordance with a prescription issued by an appropriate practitioner (a doctor, dentist, nurse independent prescriber, pharmacist independent prescriber or supplementary prescriber). Section 58 of the Medicines Act 1968 refers, as amended by Regulation.
Pharmacy medicines do not require a prescription and may be sold or supplied only in a registered pharmacy by or under the supervision of a pharmacist. The package gives information on dosage. In some cases the size of the pack will designate a substance as POM (e.g. paracetamol). Section 52 of the Medicines Act 1968 refers, as amended by Regulation.
General Sale List:
These drugs are those regarded by the CHM/ MHRA which can be sold with reasonable safety without the supervision of a pharmacist, for example in a supermarket. However they can only be sold from lockable premises and in the original manufacturer's packs. Section 53 of the Medicines Act 1968 refers, as amended by Regulation.
Medicines Unlicensed in the UK
Separate and additional national controls apply to the supply of a medicine which is not licensed for marketing within the UK. Such medicines cannot be advertised. In addition, a doctor or dentist (or a nurse or pharmacist supplementary prescriber working under a CMP) can only prescribe the use of an unlicensed medicine where his patient has a special need that a licensed medicine cannot meet or where an appropriate licensed medicine is not available. (In this context, cost is not regarded as a special need.)