Today I will provide a detailed answer to a common question: can you buy fluconazole over the counter?
Can you buy fluconazole over the counter?
The simple answer is yes. Customers can buy fluconazole over the counter from pharmacies. However, certain restrictions apply to the sale of fluconazole over the counter in the UK. Fluconazole sold over the counter is classified as pharmacy-only medication, which means it is kept away from the public, behind the pharmacy counter. Over the counter P fluconazole comes as 150mg capsule.
What is thrush (video)?
What is fluconazole over the counter used for?
Over the counter fluconazole capsule is licensed for the treatment of candidal vaginitis (vaginal thrush). Fluconazole can also be used for the treatment of partners who experience symptoms of candidal balanitis (yeast infection of the penis).
Age restrictions when buying fluconazole over the counter
Fluconazole which can be bought over the counter from pharmacies is licensed for the adult population aged 16-60. When a request for purchase is made, customers may be asked about their age and consequently refused the sale if outside the licensed age.
A pharmacist may also refuse the sale of fluconazole when a recommendation is made by a doctor to a patient whose age does not fall into the licensed age group.
Who should not buy fluconazole over the counter?
Product license for fluconazole 150mg capsule list a number of situations in which fluconazole should not be used and medical advice should be sought, for example:
- individuals with the first episode of thrush
- patients under 16 or over 60 years of age
- individuals who had more than two episodes of thrush in the last 6 months
- individuals who take the antihistamine terfenadine
- individuals with liver or kidney disease
- individuals with suspected exposure to sexually transmitted disease
- women with any abnormal or irregular vaginal bleeding
- women with vaginal ulcers or blisters
- women with symptoms not associated with thrush, for example, burning sensation on passing water
- individuals who experienced side effects caused by thrush treatment or other symptoms such as fever or chills, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
- women with discharge that smells
Some of the factors apply to men who seek over the counter thrush treatment. See product information leaflet for more details.
Can buy fluconazole over the counter and use it in pregnancy?
Oral fluconazole is not recommended for the treatment of thrush in pregnancy. The information provided in the information leaflet advises not to use fluconazole in pregnancy and contact a doctor for advice.
A NICE guide on the management of thrush in pregnancy recommends the use of clotrimazole 500mg pessaries in the first instance (NICE, 2021). Clotrimazole pessaries are also available over the counter from pharmacies.
What brands of fluconazole can you buy over the counter?
Canesten is probably of the best-known brand of thrush treatment products, which include fluconazole 150mg capsule, sold as Canesten Thrush Oral Capsule 150mg.
Additionally, the Canesten range includes combination products, for example, Canesten Thrush Duo Oral Capsule & External Cream. A single dose of fluconazole 150mg capsule and 2% clotrimazole cream are included in the packet.
Canesten Thrush Oral Capsule is generally the most expensive fluconazole 150mg capsule available over the counter. Many pharmacies sell generic fluconazole capsules, which are usually cheaper than the Canesten brand.
Boots pharmacy sells equivalent Duo thrush products (fluconazole capsule and 2% thrush cream ).
How much is fluconazole over the counter?
Branded fluconazole, for example, the Canesten Thrush capsule is probably the most expensive choice, which can be sold for as much as £10+ per capsule. With the fluconazole 150mg capsule costing less than £1 (wholesalers price), it is hard to justify the price of the Canesten Thrush Capsule.
Supermarkets and independent pharmacies may offer their brands or generic fluconazole capsules for thrush at a more reasonable price, most likely in the range of £5-£8 per capsule.
Is fluconazole 150mg capsule the best treatment choice for thrush?
Oral fluconazole may be sufficient to treat an episode of thrush, however, the treatment may include the addition of antifungal cream to treat associated vulvitis and help with symptoms such as itchiness. Fluconazole therefore may be one of the best options of treatment but not necessarily for everyone.
An oral fluconazole capsule should not be used to treat thrush in pregnancy. Instead, the intravaginal pessary is recommended.
Can you buy fluconazole over the counter (50mg or 200mg)?
In addition to the 150mg capsule, fluconazole exists in a form of 50mg and 200mg capsules. Both strengths however are prescription-only medicines. Patients need a written prescription from a doctor to get the supply of ether of capsules.
What can you use instead of fluconazole?
Fluconazole capsule is one of few options for treatment of thrush which can be bought over the counter. Clotrimazole (a different antifungal drug) is available for the treatment of thrush in different forms including, 1% and 2% creams, 10% internal cream and pessaries.
NICE (2021). Candida – female genital: Scenario: During pregnancy. Available at: https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/candida-female-genital/management/during-pregnancy/ Accessed on 31/03/2022