The aim of this paper was to explore pharmacists’ views on reclassifications from pharmacy-only to general sales and their experiences with the supply of these medicines, in addition to pharmacists’ views on the reclassification of the shingles vaccine and sildenafil to be available through ‘accredited’ pharmacists. New Zealand community pharmacists were surveyed in 2013 with a written questionnaire of six Likert-style or open-ended questions sent to Pharmacy Guild member pharmacies. The analysis involved descriptive statistics. Responses were received from 246 pharmacies. Two thirds of pharmacists supported the reclassification of the shingles vaccine and sildenafil, although 14% disagreed with the sildenafil reclassification. Over 90% of pharmacists disagreed with the reclassification of paracetamol and ibuprofen liquids, omeprazole, naproxen, and oxymetazoline from pharmacy-only medicine to general sales. This opinion was strongest for omeprazole. With liquid paracetamol and ibuprofen, pharmacists described consumer confusion with dosing, and particularly potentially doubling-up on liquid analgesics/antipyretics including using both prescription and non-prescription variants. Many reported giving safety advice frequently. Anti-inflammatories and omeprazole were also subject to potential double-dosing, as well as requests by consumers with contraindications, precautions, and drug interactions, and for inappropriate indications. Pharmacists described various interventions, including some that were potentially life-saving. Pharmacy availability of medicines provides the potential for intervention that would not happen in a general sales environment.
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