'No consultation' concern over generic switching

Plans to allow pharmacists to substitute drugs prescribed by brand with generic replacements could be introduced without any formal consultation or parliamentary debate, the government has revealed.

In response to a parliamentary question last month, Lord Darzi said that the government was looking to introduce a scheme through secondary legislation. This would mean that the changes would not have to be put to a vote in parliament.

He said it was not possible to confirm whether any formal consultation would take place before introducing generic substitution by pharmacists.

GPC prescribing lead Dr Bill Beeby was 'very concerned' no formal proposals about the scheme have been made public.

'The DoH is consulting with interested parties and I understand they are going to do something before the parliamentary recess,' he said.

'But it is looking at introducing the scheme in January.'

There are a lot of potential risks with the scheme that need wider debate, he argued.

'There is no point in people saying I told you so afterwards, so we are saying it now,' he said.

'Six months is not enough time to allow any meaningful consultation to take place. This is a very tight timeframe for a very limited benefit - I have yet to see how the savings the government is aiming for would be achieved,' Dr Beeby added.

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