DoH supports a hard line on generic prescribing

Primary care clinicians face tougher performance management on prescribing generic drugs after the DoH backed extended targets to make PCTs cut costs.

The move was signalled in an unpublicised document buried in Treasury minutes last month.

The document, a DoH response to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report, ‘Prescribing Costs in Primary Care', reveals that the NHS has saved £80 million by using generic statins since cost-cutting targets were created in September 2006.

However, the PAC report said the NHS could save more than £200 million a year through better use of generic drugs.

Ministers are now planning to extend the statin targets, dubbed ‘Better Care, Better Value (BCBV) indicators' to other drugs. These could cover ‘other categories of medicine and therapeutic areas, including anti-hypertensive drugs'.

Strategic health authorities will hold PCTs to account by comparing rates of generic prescribing. PCTs will then compare generic use at GP practices to ‘influence prescribing'.

The DoH rejected calls for greater incentives to prescribe generics in the quality framework, however.

Its response said: ‘The department considers that using enhanced BCBV indicators is the best means of securing further efficiencies.'

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