Department of Health: prescribing costs in primary care, second report of session 2007-08, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence

Front Cover
This report, from the Committee of Public Accounts, examines the cost of prescriptions in primary care. It is estimated that around a quarter of all expenditure in primary care is on drugs. In 1996, the number of prescriptions was 485 million, dispensed in England; by 2006 this had increased by 55% to 752 million, with the primary care drugs bill increasing from £4.0 billion to £8.2 billion, a 60% increase. The Committee took evidence from the Department of Health, on the basis of an earlier report from the NAO (HCP 173, session 2006-07, ISBN 9780102945171). The Committee has set out a number of conclusions and recommendations, including: that the NHS could save more than £200 million a year by GPs prescribing lower cost drugs, particularly those described as generic versions of the drug, as opposed to brand name drugs; that the proportion of lower cost prescriptions for some common conditions varies greatly between Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), and that the Strategic Health Authorities should work with the National Prescribing Centre to develop best practice in prescriptions; that an index comparing GP practices and PCTs on efficient prescribing might promote a culture of best practice; that the influence of pharmaceutical companies on prescribing decisions should be monitored by the Department of Health, with a minimal level set for gifts and hospitality offered by such companies to GPs and PCTs; there should be better information on unused and wasted drugs in the NHS, with an estimated cost of £100 million a year; that the Department of Health should explore with the pharmaceutical industry to achieve greater consistency in labelling and packaging of generic versions of the more common drugs supplied to the NHS
 

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