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Finding it difficult to get emollients on prescription?

Finding it difficult to get emollients on prescription?


Many people with eczema are finding it difficult to get their preferred emollient – or, in some cases, any emollient – on prescription.


Why is this?


  • GPs are advised, where possible, to prescribe the emollient with the ‘lowest acquisition’ cost from the range of emollients listed in their local formulary. A ‘formulary’ is the list of medicines and other treatments that are available on NHS prescription in a particular area. Formularies vary widely.
  • Sometimes a patient’s prescription is automatically switched to another treatment, usually to a cheaper alternative. This cheaper alternative should be comparable or better than the original, but sometimes it’s not. This is known as ‘script switching’.


What can I do about it?


You should still be able to get emollient on prescription to treat your eczema, even if it’s not your preferred brand. If you’ve been refused emollient on prescription altogether, or the alternative you’ve been prescribed isn’t working well for you, here are some suggestions to try:

  • Talk to your doctor or nurse and say that the 2018 NHS England prescribing guidance allows for prescribing of emollients for long-term conditions like eczema (see ‘General Exceptions to the Guidance’ (p. 12)).
  • Look at your local formulary to see which emollients are listed – your Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) should publish this online. If you’ve been refused a prescription for any emollient, ask your GP for one of the emollients listed in the formulary, which your GP has authority to prescribe.
  • If the emollient you’ve been prescribed isn’t working well for you, check whether your preferred emollient is listed in the UK Drug Tariff. GPs can theoretically prescribe any emollient listed in the Drug Tariff – but if the emollient isn’t listed in your local formulary as well, you will have to make a case for getting it on prescription.
Finding it difficult to get emollients on presc...

If you're finding it difficult to get emollients on prescription, please contact us at helpline@eczema.org to share your story. Knowing of more cases will help us bolster our campaign to ensure emollients remain available on prescription!