Availability of medicines

Medicines, approved for use in the UK, are categorised and made available in one of three ways.

  • General sale list (GSL) medicines can be bought, for example, in a supermarket. They are suitable for sale and normal use without supervision or advice from a pharmacist or doctor.
  • Pharmacy (P) medicines can only be obtained from a pharmacy and are sold under the supervision of a pharmacist. (You will see the sale assistant show the medicine to the pharmacist when you buy it.)
  • Prescription only medicines (POM) must be prescribed by a doctor, dentist, pharmacist or nurse independent prescriber or, subject to certain limitations, an optometrist independent prescriber. With regard to obtaining medicines via the internet, the Agency do urge members of the public who are contemplating buying what may be a prescription only medicine to consult with a healthcare professional rather than buy the medicine direct from a supplier without a prescription.


Page last modified: 19 September 2005