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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Free drugs for Wales

23rd January 2007

Drug companies have warned the Welsh Assembly Government that free prescriptions for all patients will lead to drugs being wasted.

The Welsh Assembly says the initiative, which will cost £29.5m in the first year, will reduce patient inequality but drug companies say that vital funding for new medicines will be lost in the move.  They insist that the policy will cost much more than expected because patients won’t take as much care with their medicines than if they had to pay for them.  Richard Greville of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said he was also concerned that free prescriptions may increase demand.  "We do hope that the government will ensure that there'll be appropriate funding for this new policy," he said.

The proposal is to be debated and decided by assembly members next week.  If the move goes ahead, all prescriptions in Wales will be free by April.  Many patients in Wales already qualify for free medicines and the assembly says the proposed policy of free prescriptions for all Welsh citizens will cost less than 5% of the annual prescribed drugs budget in the first year.

In 2006 the price of prescriptions in Wales dropped from £4 to £3; prescription charges in England rose to £6.65.


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