Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Prescribing costs in dispensing practices.

British Medical Journal 1993; 306 doi: (Published 08 May 1993) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1993;306:1244
  1. T J Morton-Jones,
  2. M A Pringle
  1. Department of General Practice, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham.


    OBJECTIVE--To examine differences in prescribing between dispensing and non-dispensing practices. SETTING--The 108 practices covered by Lincolnshire Family Health Services Authority. DESIGN--Analysis of prescribing data for 1990-1 from PD2 reports from the Prescription Pricing Authority in relation to data on practice characteristics obtained from Lincolnshire Family Health Services Authority; and aggregated level 3 prescribing and cost information (PACT data) for 10 selected drugs from the Prescription Pricing Authority to examine amounts prescribed. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Prescribing cost per patient, items per patient, and cost per item in dispensing and non-dispensing practices. RESULTS--Dispensing practices had higher prescribing costs per patient than non-dispensing practices. This difference held for non-dispensing patients within dispensing practices. Structural features failed to explain the differences in prescribing cost, except for the higher numbers of elderly patients in dispensing practices (which explained 13% of the difference) and the number of partners (5%). The main determinant of the difference was the lower use of generic drugs in dispensing practices (84%). Dispensing patients were prescribed lower quantities of drugs on average for each item. CONCLUSIONS--Dispensing practices could reduce their prescribing expenditure to that of non-dispensing practices by increasing their prescribing of generic drugs. The shorter prescribing intervals for dispensing patients may be due to dispensing fees being related to the number of prescribed items.