Glucosamine

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 1st April 2019.

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Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government which body decided that 1,500mg glucosamine tablets should be provided on prescription only; when this decision was taken; for what reason the change from being available from a pharmacist to being prescription only was made; and what evidence underlay that decision.

Photo of Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

In September 2018, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) published a decision that it intends to regard glucosamine products, at doses equal to or greater than 1,178 milligrams of base glucosamine per day, to be medicines. This figure is equivalent to 1,500 milligrams glucosamine sulphate.

This decision follows a 2016 Court of Appeal judgment which required the MHRA to reconsider its classification of glucosamine; in particular to consider the ‘manner of use’ of glucosamine, that is, why people use the products. The figure of 1,178 milligrams relates to the level at which a pharmacological effect on the body has been established.

This decision is unrelated to the classification of glucosamine as a prescription only or pharmacy only medicine (P and POM). Currently, there are United Kingdom licensed POM and P medicines containing glucosamine and these are indicated for relief of the symptoms of mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee. There have been no glucosamine products reclassified from P to POM.

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