NHS 'wasting £300m a year' on branded drugs

By DANIEL MARTIN

Last updated at 10:22 18 May 2007


More than £300million of taxpayers' money is being wasted each year by GPs needlessly prescribing expensive drugs, according to a report today.

Too many family doctors are prescribing costly, branded drugs when cheaper 'generic' versions are easily available, the National Audit Office has found.

Many of the drugs are simply thrown away without being used - costing the NHS a further £100million.

The figures come as more primary care trusts are having to deny patients certain drugs because of funding shortages.

In 2006, 750million prescriptions were dispensed, costing the NHS £8billion - an increase of 60 per cent in the last ten years.

Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said: 'There is significant scope for Watchdog the NHS to improve the value for money of prescribing.

'If GPs prescribed generic and cheaper drugs there would be more money to treat patients and pay for innovative treatments.'

If the four most common types of medicine - statins and reninangiotensin for high cholesterol, proton pump inhibitors for gastric conditions and clopidogrel for blood clotting, which represent 19 per cent of the NHS's total drugs bill - were better prescribed, it would save £300million a year, the report added.

In January, the Office for Fair Trading said some GPs were prescribing branded statins that were ten times more expensive than generic versions, which are just as effective.

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