All prescriptions charges in England should be scrapped, doctors argue, as pressure mounts on ministers to abolish system that is 'outdated, iniquitous, and detrimental to the health'.
The British Medical Association is calling for all prescriptions in England to be free and the National Pharmacy Association, and a host of patient charities are also in support.
Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have already abolished charges or are planning to.
A review of medical diagnoses which are exempt from charges is being carried out and chairman Prof Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, is due to report in the summer.
Currently only 11 per cent of people in England pay the £7.10 charge for a doctor's prescription and this will drop further from April 1st as cancer patients receiving treatment will each be exempt from fees for five years.
Gordon Brown has said exemptions will be extended to all people with long-term conditions, to be determined by the review, but doctors say this will leave only a tiny minority paying the fee which is 'nonsensical'.
The NHS earns around £450m a year from prescription charges out of a budget of around £100bn a year and this would be substantially reduced if all 15m people with long-term conditions were removed from charges, the BMA said.
Research has estimated that around 750,000 patients on low income, but who do not qualify for as exempt from charges, fail to have their medicines dispensed because of the cost.
Fears have ben raised that the NHS would be inundated for requests for medications such as simple painkillers that people currently buy over the counter but experience in the devolved nations show this has not a significant issue, the BMA argued in its submission to the review.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, said: "Free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions is a laudable aim, but it does not go far enough. The system we have at the moment isn't working, and is unfair on many patients.
"Making the list of exemptions longer will not make it fairer. Ultimately, we could end up with a situation where only a tiny proportion of prescriptions attract a charge, which would be nonsensical.
"Abolishing prescription charges altogether is the fairest and the simplest option."
The National Pharmacy Association also switched its position to calling for abolition of all charges after a board meeting last week.
In a statement Chairman Paul Bennett said: "In light of recent announcements by the Prime Minister and our knowledge of the effect of removing prescription charges for patients in Wales this Board is recommending that the English Health Department moves to abolish prescription charges – with one vital corollary that a National Minor Ailments Service through pharmacy is introduced at the same time."
In a Minor Ailments Scheme patients are encouraged to consult the community pharmacist rather than the GP for a defined list of minor ailments. The pharmacists supply medicines from an agreed list.
Currently people with people with conditions such as Type 1 diabetes, an underactive thyroid and epilepsy that requires continuous medication are exempt from charges along with patients aged 60 or over, under-16s, those aged 16 to 18 in full-time education, people on benefits and pregnant women are also exempt.
Disabled people who cannot go out without help, NHS inpatients and people on certain benefits also do not have to pay.
But people with asthma, heart disease and cystic fibrosis do have to pay for prescriptions even though they are on medication for long periods or continuously.
Neil Churchill, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, said: "Asthma UK is leading a coalition of charities calling on Gordon Brown to implement his promise of free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions as soon as possible.
"At the moment, millions of people with long-term conditions bear a disproportionate and unfair burden of prescription charges, and huge numbers of them do not get all the treatment they need because it is too costly. A new, fairer system is urgently needed."
Macmillan Cancer Support is also among the charities which have called for the abolition of all prescription charges in England.
Ciarán Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "We were delighted the Government listened to us and abolished prescription charges for cancer patients. It was absolutely the right thing to do and finally righted a wrong which stood for 40 years. However, Macmillan still believes that prescription charges are a tax on illness and should be abolished."
Director of the Patients Association Katherine Murphy said English patients are left navigating an increasingly contradictory system.
She said: "We have long supported the abolition of prescription charges and welcome the BMA's stance. Patients are sick of healthcare lotteries.
The NHS is supposed to provide a service that is free at the point of delivery. Prescription charges contradict this key principle and are hugely unfair for patients."
Public Health Minister, Dawn Primarolo said: "In England, 89 per cent of prescription items are dispensed for free, the remainder provide valuable income to the NHS of £437 million in 2009/10, which goes towards to the safety and speed of healthcare.
"But we are making the system fairer. Cancer patients will be eligible for free prescriptions from 1st April this year and we're looking at how we can do the same for people with long-term conditions."
The Telegraph, 5th March 2009