Prescribe Cheaper Drugs, British Doctors Told

Oliver Wright | The Independent | December 31, 2012

'Inefficient' doctors targeted as NHS looks to save billions

Doctors who unnecessarily prescribe expensive branded drugs to patients when cheaper alternatives are available are facing a crackdown as the NHS attempts to reduce its annual £8bn family medicine bill. Health service managers have identified inefficient prescribing by GPs as a key target for savings as the NHS looks to cut costs by around 4 per cent every year.

As a result, GPs will be forced to justify their prescription costs against newly published data, allowing managers to identify those doctors who continue to prescribe expensive branded drugs rather than their generic alternatives. The move comes after a study, backed by the new NHS Commissioning Board, found the NHS was wasting £33m a month on unnecessary expenditure on two branded heart drugs alone.

The research, by Open Health Care UK and Mastodon C, a data research company, analysed over 37 million lines of prescription data from across the country. The study found that large numbers of GPs were still prescribing branded statins to their patients despite the availability of cheaper alternatives that have been judged to be equally safe and effective. Overall, the study estimated that the NHS could have saved £200m a year on the two types of drugs if all GPs had been as cost-conscious as the best...