Pharmac could consider making nit treatment free direct from pharmacies

Pharmac says it could consider looking into the possibility of treatment for head lice being made available free over the counter at pharmacies without a prescription.

Many children pick up nits from others at school, and professional treatments can cost more than $100 a pop, Seven Sharp reported last night.

There is a free government-funded alternative for under-thirteens, but getting it requires a visit to the doctor.

A West Auckland primary school principal called on the Government's drug buying agency to make the treatment available free over the counter at pharmacies.

"The real bug bear for us is we're keeping children away from school because they have head lice," said Teresa Burns, Peninsula Primary School principal.

"It's really disruptive for families, if they've got working parents. We would love to see a quick solution for getting children back to school," she said.

"One treatment often isn't enough, so having it subsidised or free would make the world of difference to some of our families." 

Pharmac said the agency is currently consulting on changes to the emergency contraception pill and nicotine replacement therapy that would allow access to funded products from a pharmacy without needing a prescription. 

It said it could consider expanding this to include other products where it might make sense, like head lice treatments, in the future.

Parents Seven Sharp spoke to liked the idea of getting the treatment over the counter for free, saying it's a great idea, and welcoming the cost saving it would bring.

Nit treatment is currently free for kids - but you have to go to a doctor to get it. Source: Seven Sharp

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