Prescribing and sale of ophthalmic chloramphenicol following reclassification to over-the-counter availability

Int J Pharm Pract. 2010 Oct;18(5):269-74. doi: 10.1111/ijpp.18.05.00046.x.


Objectives: The impact of over-the-counter (OTC) availability of chloramphenicol eye drops and eye ointment was investigated on the prescribing and overall supply of ophthalmic chloramphenicol in primary care.

Methods: Primary care prescription data for ophthalmic chloramphenicol and ophthalmic antibacterials in England and Wales were analysed from December 2003 (month 1) to September 2008 (month 58). OTC data were analysed from June 2005 when the first OTC product was launched (months 19 to 58).

Key findings: In the 40 months following reclassification more than 2.9 million packs (53.9 per 1000 population) of chloramphenicol were sold in England and 152024 (51.7 per 1000 population) in Wales. In the 12 months to September 2008 sales of the drops and ointment were 67 and 40% of their respective prescription volumes in England. In Wales sales of drops were 52% and ointment 26% of their respective prescription volumes. The number of chloramphenicol packs sold was 2.2 times greater than the calculated reduction in ophthalmic antibacterial prescription items in England and 2.9 times greater than the reduction seen in Wales.

Conclusion: Following the reclassification of chloramphenicol there have been significant increases in the supply of the ophthalmic antibacterials in both England and Wales.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chloramphenicol / therapeutic use*
  • Conjunctivitis / drug therapy*
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Drug Utilization
  • England
  • Humans
  • Nonprescription Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Wales


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Chloramphenicol