NHS spending on OTC drugs varies two-fold across England

NHS spending on medicines available OTC varies widely across England, with in some areas spending twice as much as others, a study by healthcare analysts CHKS has found.

GPs back restricting NHS funding for medicines available OTC
GPs back restricting NHS funding for medicines available OTC

Across seven PCTs in north east England, paracetamol prescribing is twice the level expected after accounting for age and deprivation.

If these PCTs matched the prescribing levels seen across the rest of England, they would save £2.5m a year, the CHKS analysts calculated. The seven PCTs are: NHS County Durham, Gateshead PCT, South Tyneside PCT, Sunderland Teaching PCT, NHS Newcastle, NHS North Tyneside and NHS Hartlepool.

Earlier this week, a survey found that 68% of GPs think the NHS should stop providing free prescriptions for medicines available over the counter.

To restrict prescribing of some licensed drugs at NHS expense, the DH would need to add these drugs to the blacklist of 'drugs, medicines and services not to be ordered under a GMS contract'. However, this NHS ‘blacklist’ has not been updated since it was compiled in 1985.

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