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Dietitians and Prescribing

There is a close relationship between medicine and food for many conditions such as diabetes, renal disease, gastrointestinal disorders and malnutrition, and as such dietitians have been engaged with food/drug interactions for decades.

Primarily dietitians practice within two classifications of medicines:

  • Prescription only medicines (POMs).
  • Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances (ACBS).


Prescription-only medicines

Prescription-only medicines (POMs) need a prescription issued by a GP or other suitably qualified healthcare professional eg Advanced practice nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, radiographers, chiropodists & podiatrists.

Pharmacy medicines

Pharmacy medicines (P) are available from a pharmacy without a prescription, but under the supervision of a pharmacist. This type of medicine is kept ‘behind the counter’ and is not available on the pharmacy shelves.

General sales list medicines

General sales list (GSL) medicines can be bought from pharmacies, supermarkets and other retail outlets without the supervision of a pharmacist. These are sometimes referred to as ‘over-the-counter’ (OTC) medicines. OTC medicines include those that treat minor, self-limiting complaints, which people may feel are not serious enough to see their GP or pharmacist about.


In certain conditions some foods have the characteristics of drugs and The Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances (ACBS) recommends products on the basis that they may be regarded as drugs for the management of specified conditions.