Intended for healthcare professionals


Commentary: Achieving savings will not be straightforward

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 17 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c7161
  1. David Phizackerley, deputy editor
  1. 1Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin, London WC1H 9JR, UK
  1. dphizackerley{at}

Medicines represent one of the largest non-salary areas of NHS expenditure and have been under close scrutiny for many years. In 1994 “inappropriate spending” on medicines prescribed by general practitioners was estimated to cost around £300m (€360m; $470m) a year, and 13 years later a National Audit Office report found “over £200 million of potential efficiency savings” by looking at just 19% of the primary care drugs bill.1 2 Financial efficiency of prescribing in secondary care has been questioned in a national review.3 As a result the past 20 years has seen the evolution of management systems and support processes across primary and secondary care to improve efficiency; these include …

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