The OTC pain management landscape has changed in recent years. To address concerns about the misuse of some analgesics, the regulatory authorities in many parts of the world have implemented many access changes, such as the restriction of codeine to prescription only and pack sizes of modified-release paracetamol.
While these changes are intended to optimise the use of analgesics, health providers need to be aware of all options available to avoid under management of pain. Unrelieved acute pain can negatively impact patients’ well-being and increase the risk of transition to chronic pain. The successful use of non-prescription medicines to treat minor conditions can increase patient confidence to self-manage their own health, which can in turn lead to better outcomes.
It is therefore imperative to explore how a balanced approach to pain management can be achieved by incorporating OTC analgesics as essential elements in holistic treatment plans. This includes understanding first-line pharmacotherapy recommendations for different indications and the evidence supporting the available options, as well as maximising the use of the over-the-counter and behind-the-counter categories.