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Acute drugs

Scottish health board to see 16% hike in acute drugs cost over the next year

NHS Lanarkshire’s acute drugs cost is set to increase by 16% in 2019/2020, the health board’s chief executive, Calum Campbell, has said.

Giving evidence to Holyrood’s Health and Sport Committee on 26 March 2019, Campbell said the increase in cost will come despite only a 2.6% uplift in funding for the board over the same period.

“One of the biggest cost pressures that we will face comes from acute drugs,” he said.

“Although we will get a 2.6% uplift this year, our acute drug expenditure is going to increase by around 16%; indeed, over the past five years, it has grown by around 60%.

“It is a massive pressure and, to be honest, if we do not do something about it, we will not be able to sustain balance.”

Campbell was speaking to members of Scottish parliament during an evidence session with NHS Lanarkshire — part of a series of evidence sessions that the committee is holding with territorial health boards.

Expanding on his comments, Jane Burns, medical director at NHS Lanarkshire, said that 54% of the predicted cost increase was in new cancer drugs approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium.

But she expressed “concern” that 22% of the increase would come from the Peer Approved Clinical System (PACS) Tier 2.

In February 2018, PACS Tier 2 replaced the Individual Patient Treatment Request process, and allows clinicians, on behalf of their patients, to request from local boards a medicine that has not yet been approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium.

Although Burns said PACS Tier 2 is a “much more permissive way of prescribing”, she added it will “give us a significant cost pressure in the coming year”.

However, Burns praised the role of hospital pharmacists in the NHS Lanarkshire who have “brought rigour to looking at the costs of individual medicines”.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206361

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