Cost of Drugs to the NHS


Philip Lee of Epilepsy Action raised the issue of generic substitution of drugs prescribed in the NHS. (Letters 3rd September).

He is right to draw attention to the fact that there are some drugs used in the treatment of Epilepsy, but also for certain heart conditions, where it is recommended that patients continue to take the same brand of a drug and where generic substitution could make it difficult to control the patient’s condition.

However, the regulations already allow for a doctor to specify the brand where that is clinically indicated.

Provision will be made to allow the prescriber to opt out of substitution where, in his (sic) clinical judgment, it is appropriate for the patient to receive a specific branded medicine. In these circumstances, the named brand must be dispensed. Provision may also be made to exclude certain categories of medicines for clinical reasons in the interests of patient safety.”

Most doctors in Shropshire already prescribe generically where possible and the introduction of generic substitution with the proposed safeguards should be welcomed.

Shropshire’s GPs currently prescribe over £48M worth of drugs each year. In addition to generic prescribing it makes sense to use the best value drug where there are similar drugs available. If every patient taking a statin for reducing their blood cholesterol were to ask their GP if they are taking the current best value statin Shropshire patients could save the NHS £1.6 million per year.

Dr Charles West
Parliamentary Candidate Shrewsbury and Atcham Liberal Democrats
3 Bellstone
tel:   07775 800744

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