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Medicines optimisation

More generic prescribing could save £18m, NHS Business Services Authority says

Nearly £18m could be saved from the NHS drugs budget if more medicines from a published list were prescribed generically, the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) has said.

A list of 20 drugs that could be prescribed generically has been published by the NHS BSA. It claims that if these were prescribed when clinically appropriate, a national total of £17.9m could be saved. If the generic prescribing rates for these medicines in every clinical commissioning group (CCG) matched the average of their best five comparable CCGs, then £4.2m could be saved.

Based on patient level prescribing data in the form of a ‘dashboard’, the NHS BSA tool includes the savings that could be made across various geographies, from national to GP practice level. The current rates of prescribing of the generic products are also shown.

The dashboard says it includes medicines “deemed by experienced pharmacists to have the least potential for clinical controversy”. It has been published on the NHS BSA’s information ePACT2 information service.

If a CCG has a number of medicines with relatively low current levels of generic prescribing in their locality, the NHS BSA advises them to notify community pharmacies of plans to increase generic prescribing so they can prepare for increases in demand.

Although 81% of prescriptions in England are prescribed generically, pharmacists have expressed concerns that the supplies of generic medicines are vulnerable to market forces, with manufacturers restricting their distribution, and currency exchange rates affecting prices. The Department of Health has been asked to intervene to shield pharmacies from such changes and help boost the strength of supply chains for generic medicines.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203785

Readers' comments (1)

  • Unfortunately for NHSBSA, mesalazine 800mg m/r g/r tablets are in part VIIIA of the Drug Tariff as both Asacol and Octasa. The payment made to the pharmacy is based upon the endorsement; if the pharmacy dispense Asacol and endorse "ex 84" or equivalent, they will be paid for Asacol.

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