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Nice turns to pharmacy to tackle vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin supplements should be 'more widely distributed and sold' from pharmacies so more people have access to them, says Nice

The government should encourage manufacturers to sell its range of vitamin supplements direct to pharmacies, Nice has said.

The law should be amended to allow Healthy Start vitamins to be more widely sold and the Department of Health (DH) should negotiate with manufacturers to make it easier for pharmacies to obtain the supplements, Nice said in a consultation on vitamin D guidance.

The supplements, which include vitamins C, D and folic acid, are currently only available to pregnant women and mothers with children under four on benefits who receive NHS vouchers, which they can use to collect them free from selected shops and pharmacies.

Healthy Start supplements should be more widely available through pharmacies, says Nice

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Local authorities should consider using minor ailments schemes or other local pharmacy arrangements to make vitamin D supplements widely available for all at-risk groups: these include children under five, older people, pregnant and breastfeeding women, people with darker skin and those who have limited exposure to the sun, Nice said in its consultation, published last week (May 16).

Nice put forward 10 recommendations to reduce vitamin D deficiencies, which included a national awareness campaign by Public Health England, providing free supplements to at-risk groups free and co-ordinating with commissioners and health professionals to increase access to the supplements at a local level.

Nice urged health and social care professionals to recommend supplements to at-risk groups at "every available opportunity" and suggested that local authorities use "computerised prompts" to promote vitamin D use during GP appointments, flu vaccinations and diabetes checks.

Nice's consultation, which runs until June 24, comes a month after health minister Daniel Poulter announced that all community pharmacies in the UK could be allowed to sell Healthy Start supplements by the end of the year.

Find out more about vitamin D services: Tackling vitamin D deficiency

Do you think its a good idea for manufacturers to be able to supply vitamin supplements directly to you?
We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information

Gaynor Devereaux, Locum pharmacist

Why does it have to be supplied free? With the state of the NHS finances at the moment how about recommending people buy what they need? The local shop has Vitamin D 400 unit tablets, 30 for £1.00, I don't really see that anyone cannot afford this amount, especially if they eat less expensive crap foodstuffs. This is as bad as the patient who cannot afford a bottle of simple linctus but has just brought two packets of cigarettes

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Yet another example of the original choice provider fails to deliver so they turn to pharmacy, with its higher contact rate, no appointments and easy access to supplement - or should that read "bail out" - a failing project

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Anything no one else will touch with a barge pole is presented at our door as a present we must be grateful for

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

NICE turning to Pharmacy. Rough translation - nobody else will do it and not for free. Glad to know we're held in high esteem in the upper echelons

[email protected], Non healthcare professional

Anything for FREE is NICE

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

"Nice's consultation, which runs until June 24, comes a month after health minister Daniel Poulter announced that all community pharmacies in the UK could be allowed to sell Healthy Start supplements by the end of the year" why not a "would" instead of a could - it makes the whole thing a non event. Once again it shows how far we have to go to get the DoH to see us as having anything to do with health.

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