Australia behind the rest of the world on switch

17 October 2014

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17 October 2014 - The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) says New Zealand is leading the way in improving consumer access to medicines. A number of medicines such as trimethoprim for urinary tract infection; triptans for migraine; oseltamivir for flu and flu vaccines are available in New Zealand as over-the-counter (OTC) but still require a prescription in Australia.

This was in response to the reclassification of erectile dysfunction medicine Sildenafil in New Zealand to Pharmacist Only, where approved pharmacists have been trained under a program designed by the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand. Sildenafil is the first erectile dysfunction product to be switched to OTC in the world.

ASMI Executive Director Dr Deon Schoombie said: "A recent study demonstrated that New Zealand was the most active country in progressive switches from 2003 to 2013, followed by the United Kingdom and Japan. Australia was one of three countries that showed the least switch activity during the decade. 1

"One of ASMI's top priorities is to pursue reforms in this area. Reforms should include developing a scheduling policy, implementing a supporting regulatory framework, streamlining of processes and identifying the candidates for future switches through collaboration with consumers, pharmacists, GPs, industry and federal and state governments to deliver a progressive and best practice scheduling environment.

"The wider availability of safe, proven and affordable medicines has the potential to make a positive impact on individual and public health by providing consumers with easier, more convenient and faster access to therapeutic products to treat illness and maintain health," Dr Schoombie added.

About ASMI: The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak body representing sponsors of non-prescription medicines - over-the-counter (OTC) and complementary medicines (CM). ASMI members make up 85 per cent of the $4bn Non-Prescription Medicines market. Membership totals 50 companies and ASMI members employ approximately 18,000 people with exports estimated at $1.2 billion annually. ASMI's mission is to advance consumer health through responsible self-care. This means driving a viable and responsible industry and empowering the consumer with evidence-based products and information with the aim of improving health and wellbeing. To find out more about ASMI or how to become an ASMI member, please visit (

For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:
Marie Kelly-Davies
PR Manager, Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI)
M:0408 256 381 E:


1. Gauld, N. et al. Widening consumer access to medicines through switching medicines to non-prescription: A six country comparison. PLOS ONE, Published: September 24, 2014 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107726,