GP prescribing incentives hit by generic substitution

Prescribing incentives for GPs will dry up if plans to allow generic substitution by pharmacists go ahead, a GP investigation suggests.

From January, pharmacists could substitute drugs prescribed by brand with generic equivalents under plans being discussed by the DoH and the pharmaceutical industry.

Of 65 PCTs who responded to a Freedom of Information request, 31 per cent run schemes that pay GPs for prescribing generically.

But only four of these plan to retain their scheme for the coming financial year.

A fifth said they would not continue to incentivise generic prescribing if a generic substitution policy was introduced.

Over half of these said they had yet to make a decision on whether to retain their scheme after April.

PCTs said they would review incentive schemes in light of further information about the proposed generic substitution scheme.

Dr Bill Beeby, GPC prescribing lead, said he believed that generic prescribing incentive schemes had probably run their course.

'Most people are now prescribing generically most of the time, so there are now few incentives needed for generic prescribing,' he said.

In addition, now that almost all prescribers are achieving generic prescribing rates of around 80 per cent, there are few extra savings available. 'Even the biggest practice would only be able to make around £1,000 a quarter in savings,' he said.

tom.moberly@haymarket.com

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