Published: 09/05/2002, Volume II2, No. 5804 Page 6

Viagra, the contraceptive pill and treatments for acne, obesity and arthritis are among a list of 50 prescription-only drugs which could soon be available over the counter under new plans unveiled by junior health minister Lord Hunt, it was announced last week.

Though the move will free patients to buy more effective drugs over the counter, Lord Hunt insists that the aim is not to cut the NHS drugs bill.The changes are also designed to free up doctors' time and tie in with other plans to allow pharmacists and nurses to prescribe more and provide repeat prescriptions. In the past 10 years, 50 medicines have been reclassified as available over the counter.