UK wasting millions on drugs?

May 22, 2007

The NHS (UK) is losing up to ?300 million a year as a result of GPs choosing expensive brands of medicine, a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) has found.

The NHS is losing up to £300 million a year as a result of GPs choosing expensive brands of medicine, a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) has found. The report showed the great differences in prescribing between primary care trusts nationwide. It found that £200 million could be saved if all primary care trusts prescribed as efficiently as the top 25% of their peers. And if all trusts followed the examples of the top 10%, the NAO report said, in excess of £300 million could be saved.

It also said about £100 million per year was wasted on drugs, which were not used, and highlighted the 60% increase in the primary care drugs bill over the last decade. The committee called on the Department of Health to produce more accurate figures on the wastage of drugs and review why patients fail to take them.

Edward Leigh MP, chairman of the Committee for Public Accounts argued that the report "clearly demonstrates that GPs are often not providing value for money for the NHS in the way they prescribe drugs and medicines." He argued that small changes to how GPs prescribe could "free up a lot of money for our struggling NHS". Leigh also said the Department of Health must get "a better grip on the scale of the problem and the reasons it occurs", claiming that until it does so "they won't be able to put a stop to this waste".Auditor general Sir John Bourn, the head of the NAO, said: "There is significant scope for the NHS to improve the value for money of prescribing in primary care. If GPs more often followed official guidelines and prescribed generic and other cheaper drugs where suitable, then there would be more money to treat patients and pay for expensive or innovative treatments."

www.nao.org.uk