Centre plans to bring 16 common drugs for cough, cold, pain under over-the-counter category

Commonly used drugs for cough, cold, pain and skin irritation such as paracetamol, nasal decongestants and antifungals may soon be available without prescription as the Centre plans to list them under the over-the-counter (OTC) category. The Union Health Ministry has suggested amendments to the Drugs Rules, 1945, to bring 16 such medicines under Schedule K for providing exemptions from requiring a doctor’s prescription so that they can be sold over-the-counter by retail sellers under a valid license.

A gazette notification seeking suggestions from stakeholders within a month over the matter has been issued by the ministry.

Those 16 medicines include Povidone Iodine, an antiseptic and disinfectant agent; Chlorohexidine mouthwash for gingivitis, Clotrimazole an antifungal cream; Dextromethorphan Hydrobromide lozenges for cough; analgesic ointment Diclofenac; Benzoyl peroxide which is an antibacterial for acne; Diphenhydramine capsules, an antihistaminic and antiallergic drug; Paracetamol; some nasal decongestants and laxatives.

Once the proposal is cleared, these drugs can be sold in retail OTC without doctors’ prescription with certain riders such as the maximum duration of treatment should not exceed five days and if the symptoms do not resolve the patient should consult a doctor.