Campaigners have warned that a new plan to make a cure for chlamydia available over the counter is little more than a ‘sticking plaster’ effort to address soaring infection rates.
Pharmacists will be allowed to sell the antibiotic tablet to anyone aged over 16 who has tested positive for the infection. It can also be supplied to their partner.
Self-testing kits are already available, so that the new plans will allow those who are infected to avoid their GP altogether.
Dr June Raine of the The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which approved the tablet, said: “(The) move means that symptom-free people diagnosed with chlamydia and their partner will be able to get convenient effective treatment from their local pharmacy.”
But family campaigners fear that the scheme is a “money-making venture” which could do more harm than good.
Dr Trevor Stammers, of the Family Education Trust, said: “It’s folly on a grand scale. People who test positive for chlamydia should be tested for other sexually transmitted infections, they’ll think they’re safe and they won’t be.
“Letting people bypass the doctor is a short-sighted approach that may make the problem worse and could also increase antibiotic resistance.”
Chlamydia is the most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted infection (STI) among young people (aged 16-24), with 79,557 new cases recorded in 2007. It can often fail to present symptoms, so actual infection figures are likely to be far higher.
A recent report from the Health Protection Agency acknowledged that promiscuity was helping to drive up STI rates among young people.