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Legal challenge on cheap drugs

5th July 2007

Major drugs firms have forced a judicial review over government moves to encourage GPs to switch patients to cheaper, generic medication.


The main focus is on cholesterol lowering drugs, statins, which could save the NHS up to £84m a year if patients were switched to generic versions of the drug.

But the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) argues that paying doctors to prescribe such drugs is illegal under European law and it also says that patient safety could be compromised.

GPs have also expressed unease over the recommendations, fearing it may put patients at risk.

Dr Peter Fellows, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP prescribing committee, told Pulse magazine: “Doing all this for very small short-term financial gains is really ridiculous. I will fight to the death to defend doctors' rights to prescribe what they think is most clinically effective.?

Under the scheme, GPs are rewarded for increasing the percentage of generic drugs prescribed with payments going into practice funds.

But the Department of Health says it will defend the challenge by the drug companies.
A DoH spokesman said: “These generic drugs are safe, of good quality, just as effective, and used to treat many millions of patients worldwide. We are talking here about achieving best value for money for the taxpayer. Cost-effective prescribing releases resources for more patients to receive treatment.?

The ABPI considers the payment to prescribe a certain kind of drug as tantamount to a bribe and illegal under European law and has started the judicial view, “with regret?, to clarify the position.


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Article Information

Title: Legal challenge on cheap drugs
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 3363
Date Added: 5th Jul 2007


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