Health minister Mike O'Brien launched the public consultation on the government's plans to introduce generic substitution in England. The proposals will be open for comments until 30 March.
The proposals include options for having a list of products exempt from the scheme or only applying the scheme to a selected group of products, as well as maintaining current practice.
There had originally been no plan for formal consultation or parliamentary debate on plans to allow pharmacists to substitute drugs prescribed by brand with generic replacements. However, GPs and charities expressed concern that the changes would affect patient care and the government agreed in August to consult on its proposals.
Introduction of generic substitution will involve changes to NHS arrangements. Devolved administrations will determine their own plans and substitution schemes are already being piloted in Northern Ireland.
Plans to introduce generic substitution in the UK were set out in changes to the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme agreed in 2008 and were scheduled to be introduced this month. The timetable for implementation will now depend on the outcome of the consultation.