LONDON, August 6 /PRNewswire/ --

Today's decision by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve the reclassification of azithromycin for the treatment of chlamydia infection will mean convenient and effective care for patients, said the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB). Azithromycin, currently licensed as a prescription-only medicine, is expected to be available for sale from pharmacies without a prescription later this year.

Azithromycin is the first oral antibiotic to be approved for reclassification. It will be available for people 16 years and over if they have tested positive for the infection through an approved standard test and have no symptoms. It will also be available for their sexual partners.

Howard Duff, RPSGB's Director for England, said: "Pharmacists already play an important role in the provision of sexual health services, and have done so for many years. Reclassifying azithromycin will expand on existing services and improve access to chlamydia screening and treatment for patients.

"Chlamydia infection rates are increasing, particularly in those under 25 years of age. The development of appropriate sexual health services for this group should result in higher rates of detection of sexually transmitted infections and improved awareness of the importance of practising safe sex."

Notes to Editors

- The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain is the professional and regulatory body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. It also regulates pharmacy technicians on a voluntary basis, which is expected to become statutory under anticipated legislation. The primary objectives of the Society are to lead, regulate, develop and represent the profession of pharmacy. The Society leads and supports the development of the profession within the context of the public benefit. This includes the advancement of science, practice, education and knowledge in pharmacy. In addition, it promotes the profession's policies and views to a range of external stakeholders in a number of different forums. Following the publication in 2007 of the Government White Paper Trust, Assurance and Safety - The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century, the Society is working towards the demerger of its regulatory and professional roles. This will see the establishment of a new General Pharmaceutical Council and a new professional body for pharmacy in 2010.

- Pharmacists are among the most accessible healthcare professionals. Research has shown that the vast majority of the public has easy access to pharmacies: 99% of the population can reach a community pharmacy by car, by walking or by public transport within 20 minutes.

For media enquiries please contact the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Public Relations Unit Niklas Bergstrand - +44-(0)20-7572-2336

For media enquiries please contact the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Public Relations Unit, Niklas Bergstrand - +44-(0)20-7572-2336