NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 18, 2007

The National Health Service (NHS) could save more than £300 million (about U.S. $592 million) a year by being more efficient when prescribing drugs, according to a new report by the National Audit Office.


  • In 2006 the NHS spent more than £8 billion ($15.7 billion) on medicines in primary care.
  • That figure represents a 60 percent real-terms increase in the last 10 years.

General Practitioners (GPs) could make more use of cheaper, non-brand versions of the most common prescription drugs, without harming care, the Audit Office said.  Further, the report showed that:

  • More than £200 million (about U.S. $394 million) a year could be saved if all primary care trusts (PCTs) prescribed as efficiently as the top performing 25 percent of PCTs.
  • If all PCTs prescribed as efficiently as the top 10 percent of PCTs, then more than £300 million (about U.S. $592 million) could be saved.

The report also found that there was a significant cost to the NHS from medicines being wasted, for example, by being dispensed to patients but not used.  The full cost of wastage is difficult to quantify because of a lack of robust data, but the audit office estimated £100 million (about U.S. $197 million) of drugs were returned unused to the NHS.

Source: "GPs 'wasting millions' on drugs," BBC News, May 18, 2007.

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