Open-access prescription data can save Britain's NHS millions: study

Lynne Taylor | Pharma Times Online | January 8, 2013

A study backed by the NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) has found that the sharing of publicly-available prescribing data could save the NHS in England millions of pounds a year.  Concentrating on statins, the researchers worked with publicly-available NHS prescription data to analyse the prescribing patterns of GP practices, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) over an eight-week period, to discover how much money was spent in each area on the more expensive drugs in the class.

Its findings estimate that in 2011, NHS England had an average £27 million a month of "potentially unnecessary" expenditure on two brand-name statins, and that, if the research had been conducted the previous year, over £200 million could have been saved in this class alone. The NHSCB-backed research was conducted by Mastodon C - a big-data start-up company based at The Open Data Institute (ODI), Open Health Care UK - the health technology start-up behind the NHS Hack Days, and Ben Goldacre, the doctor and writer behind

The researchers say that the potentially unnecessary expenditure on brand-name statins which they have discovered "is part of a wider issue of spending on propriety drugs in cases where good and far cheaper generic equivalents exist." Previous research has estimated that these wider patterns cost the NHS over £1 billion a year in excess spend, they add...