Last year, 1.1 billion prescription items were dispensed at a cost of £9.2billion . This growing cost, coupled with finite resources, means it is important that the NHS achieves the greatest value from the money that it spends. We know that across England there is significant variation in what is being prescribed and to who. Often patients are receiving medicines which have been proven to be ineffective or in some cases dangerous, and/or for which there are other more effective, safer and/or cheaper alternatives. NHS England has partnered with NHS Clinical Commissioners to support Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in ensuring that they can use their prescribing resources effectively and deliver best patient outcomes from the medicines that their local population uses.
There is currently a consultation about 18 medicines, which cost the NHS of £141m a year (not including dispensing costs), that should not be routinely prescribed in primary care. These can be categorised into one of the following groups:
The items are of low clinical effectiveness, where there is a lack of robust evidence of clinical effectiveness or there are significant safety concerns.
- Items which are clinically effective but where more cost-effective products are available.
- Items which are clinically effective but, due to the nature of the product, are deemed a low priority for NHS funding.
In addition, your views are needed on some over-the-counter medicines. This includes over 3,200 products which the NHS in England spends approximately £645m a year on purchasing. These include products that:
- Can be purchased over the counter, and sometimes at a lower cost than would be incurred by the NHS;
- Treat a condition that is considered to be self-limiting and so does not need treatment as it will heal/be cured of its own accord; and/or
- Treat a condition which lends itself to self-care, i.e. that the person suffering does not normally need to seek medical care and/or treatment for the condition.