NHS pays £500m too much for prescription drugs

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 22 February 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:383
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. London

    The UK health services are overpaying by about £500m (€740m; $980m) a year for prescription drugs, says a government report published this week. This is because of the current system for pricing drugs in the United Kingdom, it says, and it calls for the pricing scheme to be changed to reflect the benefit of drugs to patients.

    The report, from the Office of Fair Trading, a body that protects consumers' interests in the UK, found that many alternative products were available in the areas of greatest NHS expenditure, including drugs for raised cholesterol concentrations and high blood pressure.

    Several drugs currently prescribed in large volumes were up to 10 times more expensive than alternatives that the researchers considered delivered very similar benefits to patients. They argue that hundreds of millions of pounds are spent on the more expensive products each year, restricting funds available for other drugs.

    On the basis of its findings, which included a survey of 1000 GPs on their prescribing habits and a comparison with drug …

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