According to the article, spend has doubled in a decade to £8.2 billion each year. Recommendations included greater use of generic drugs, putting prices onto packets so patients are aware of the cost of their medicines and restricting the influence of the pharmaceutical industry by forcing GPs to declare significant gifts and hospitality. MPs also cite the variation in the use of cheaper statins; in some trusts use is just 28% while in others it is 86%.
The Pharmaceutical Industry refute many of these recommendations stating that branded drugs are under-used in Britain and that generic prescribing rates are the highest in relation to comparable countries. Despite this the article reports that 20% of GPs admitted to being more influenced by pharmaceutical firms than NHS advisers.
There does not appear to be any mention of the impact of earlier detection, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of medical conditions and the obvious increase in drugs spend that would be associated with this change.
Action: Clinicians may wish to reflect on their current prescribing habits and make greater use generic medicines where appropriate before changes are enforced. NHS advisers may wish to the results of the reported survey and assess how they can affect greater influence and prescribing change.
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