Millions wasted on NHS drugs18th May 2007
The National Audit Office says the NHS could save more than £300m a year through increased efficiency when GPs prescribe drugs.
The watchdog's report advised that GPs could prescribe cheaper, generic types of the most widespread prescription drugs. The report said some GPs continue to issue prescriptions for more expensive medicine when there are lower-priced options available.
The report stated that the NHS could save at least £100m per annum by addressing issues relating to prescriptions. In 2006 the NHS paid out over £8bn for medicine used in primary care.
Sir John Bourn, of the National Audit Office, said: "There is significant scope for the NHS to improve the value for money of prescribing in primary care."
The report said there were significant disparities between primary care trusts (PCTs) in the degree to which GPs prescribed less expensive drugs for the same illnesses.
It stated that the health service could save over £200m per annum if all PCTs prescribed as effectively as the best performing 25% of PCTs, and over £300m if they prescribed as well as the best 10% of PCTs.
The Audit Office said PCTs should compare working methods. It also expressed concern at prescription wastage, where patients were prescribed medication, but did not use it. It estimated around £100m of medication was not used and returned to the health service.
The report advised that the Department of Health needed to investigate the degree of wasted prescriptions.
Health Minister Lord Hunt said: "The government recognises the importance of getting the best value for money for the NHS."
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