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£100m spent on indigestion drugs

4th January 2008

Experts say that at least £100m of NHS money - and almost £2bn worldwide - is being wasted each year on indigestion drugs.

Figures show that in 2006 expenditure on proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) was £425m in England alone, yet in up to 70% of cases there was no indication for the prescription.

Writing in the British Medical Journal the experts from King’s College London accused doctors of ignoring prescribing guidelines and say cheaper but still effective drugs can be given.

Some patients need medication for indigestion and PPIs like omeprazole are one such drug and work by stopping the stomach from producing acid.

However, Drs Ian Forgacs and Aathavan Loganayagam say these relatively expensive drugs are being prescribed too readily and contrary to guidance.

They told the BMJ: “Effective and cheaper alternative drugs are available for many patients.

Yet prescriptions for proton pump inhibitors have superseded those for all other acid inhibiting agents and now account for over 90% of the NHS drug budget for treating dyspepsia.?

In 2000 the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued PPI guidance, saying the NHS could save up to £50m a year in drugs costs in England and Wales by prudent prescribing of the drugs.

A NICE spokeswoman said: “It is always disappointing when our recommendations are not consistently followed.?

NICE said it strongly urges PCTs to use its criteria for prescribing PPIs so that they “can be confident they are targeting resources where they are most likely to offer benefit.?


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Article Information

Title: £100m spent on indigestion drugs
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 5221
Date Added: 4th Jan 2008


BBC News
The Independent

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