The battle over the cost of drugs

ONE of the battles the Government has had with doctors for at least 40 years is to persuade them to prescribe generic drugs instead of more expensive proprietary brands. It is the same choice that we face at the apothecary s counter when we feel the need

ONE of the battles the Government has had with doctors for at least 40 years is to persuade them to prescribe generic drugs instead of more expensive proprietary brands.

It is the same choice that we face at the apothecary's counter when we feel the need of pain-killers. Do we buy cheaper aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen or pay more for the same active ingredients and drug companies' brand names?

That is our choice and our money, but we have no say in the way doctors are spending what is also our money.

Nationally, we could save £500million by opting for generic drugs. In the East of England generic cholesterol-reducing statins would save £24million a year, Dr Watson says - enough to wipe out Hinchingbrooke's projected debt if the Government repays the £6.5million the hospital overpaid earlier this year as part of the payment-by-results clawback.


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But, with the drugs bill accounting for 10 per cent of NHS spending, generic prescribing is a key issue in controlling costs. That said, the SHA cannot force such decisions on clinicians.

n Hands around hospital - Page 10

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