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Research Article

Seventeen years' experience of a voluntarily based drug rationalisation programme in hospital.

BMJ 1988; 297 doi: (Published 13 August 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;297:465
  1. J. A. Baker,
  2. A. F. Lant,
  3. C. A. Sutters
  1. Riverside Health Authority, London.


    A study was carried out analysing the operation of a drug rationalisation programme in a central London teaching district that had evolved from experience over 17 years. Creation of a limited list of about 700 drugs had been achieved by local consensus. Drug selection was based on appraisal of efficacy, safety, and cost and was undertaken by means of collaborative participation of most consultant specialists in the district. Educative and other non-restrictive strategies for reinforcing the rationalisation policy had achieved a consistently high rate of compliance in prescribing recommended drugs. The concept of selectivity in drug use and its continuous local reappraisal had a beneficial impact on the prescribing habits of doctors at all levels of seniority as well as on the training of medical undergraduates and nurses in the therapeutic use of medicines. Peer review and self audit were encouraged by use of an extensive monitoring system which incorporated continuous "facilitative" dialogue between ward pharmacists and prescribers. Two models of drug rationalisation programme were studied, the second of which together with other local initiatives had been associated with substantial and sustained reductions in drug spending each year over nine years since 1978. It is concluded that the second drug rationalisation programme model substantially improves the cost effective use of drugs in hospital and furthermore has the potential of being extended to general practice, especially in types of prescribing that are common to both forms of patient care.