MPs urge GPs to follow scrip guidance

GPs should follow government prescription guidelines, as the NHS spends £200 million more than it should on branded medicine, according to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

‘One fifth of all GPs surveyed by the National Audit Office say that their behaviour in prescribing drugs is more influenced by pharmaceutical company marketing than by official NHS advice,’ said PAC chairman Edward Leigh (Conservative, Gainsborough).

Prescribing generic drugs that were ‘cheaper but no less effective’ could save the NHS at least £200 million, he added.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the GPC, said: ‘The BMA line has always been that you should prescribe generically as it’s much cheaper for the NHS. There is a school of thought that says you should prescribe expensive drugs to bankrupt the government, but I'm against using prescriptions as a weapon.’

He believed that most GPs already prescribe generically where possible. As evidence, he pointed to the fact the government had rejected proposals to use the quality framework to encourage the use of unbranded drugs.

The report found that the number of prescriptions had jumped by 55 per cent over 10 years, from 485 million in 1996 to 756 million in 2006.

Over the same period the bill for those drugs increased by 60 per cent in real terms, from £4 billion to £8.2 billion.

View the Public Accounts Committee report

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