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Approved drugs ‘banned on NHS over cost’

13 April 2011

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NHS managers are drawing up lists of approved drugs GPs must not prescribe because they are too expensive, a research has found.

Pulse research showed over half of primary care organisations (PCOs) have implemented such blacklists of drugs not to be given on the NHS in the past year as pressure to make savings grows.

Managers think the changes will save £250m from the 2011/12 medicines budget, the magazine said.

It used the Freedom of Information Act to ask for figures from 134 PCTs and health boards. They showed more than 50% of them have blacklisted drugs – in some cases over 100 – that GPs are not allowed to give patients on the NHS.

Pulse said 73 PCOs admitted adding medicines to such lists or giving GPs extra restrictions on how they prescribe in the past year, as they are faced with the prospect of saving about £1.9m each this year.

Drugs approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) or other organisations are often on these blacklists, Pulse said. It said featured drugs include gliptins for diabetes, denosumab for osteoporosis, atorvastatin and rosuvastatin – approved in some circumstances by the National Prescribing Centre.

Other listed drugs are banned because of “low clinical priority”, such as newer contraceptive pills, weight-loss drug orlistat, erectile dysfunction drugs, some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, drugs for Parkinson’s disease and homeopathic treatments, it said.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

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“Managers can only advise with regard to prescribing, particularly now that we have GP commissioning. Having said that GPs should take managers’ advice into consideration when prescribing” – Allan Stewart, Wirral

“I think that this out of order. When people are ill they need to have these drugs, people do not use drugs because they like to, but because they are ill. This is what makes me really angry, we give other places around the world money, we get involved in wars that are nothing to do with us, and tell hospitals, and patients sorry we will have to cut your medication for some cheap c**p! I have very high blood pressure, the medication that I take is cheap trash, my blood pressure is 182/98, my husband has very severe breathing problems owing to COPD. The antibiotics do not work when he gets infections, cheap trash, I had to get the doctor out because his breathing was very bad and he was very afraid, the serco doctor visited late at night, my husband said that he was having to use more oxygen! The doctor from serco told my husband this, if you need oxygen 24 hours a day use it! the next day a doctor from our own surgery called, and my husband was told that he could not have anymore oxygen because he was having enough, and their bill would be very high. What I would like to know is this, what happens to the sick people, this is a disgrace, we spend money on all kinds of stupid things,but the nations health should come first. This nation is run by a bunch of liars” – Mary Sircar, Cornwall