The British Medical Association (BMA) has backed a report from MPs which says GPs should be rewarded if they prescribe generic drugs rather than more expensive branded medicines.
The spending watchdog made the claims as part of a wide-ranging study which examined how money could be saved in the NHS.
The committee also demanded that tough new regulations should be introduced to force GPs to publicly register gifts and hospitality they receive from pharmaceutical companies, in a bid to increase the use of generics.
In a recent survey a fifth of doctors admitted they were more influenced by big firms than NHS advisers over which drugs to prescribe – leading to an overuse of more expensive branded medicines.
The committee said it was right to “reward GPs for prescribing drugs that are available in generic form when clinically appropriate” and said the Department of Health should look at taking similar action with other drug types such as renin-angiotensins, which are used to treat high blood pressure.
Dr Bill Beeby, chairman of the GP Committee’s Clinical and Prescribing subcommittee said: “The PAC report acknowledges that there has been a substantial increase in prescribing generic drugs in recent years and with just over 2% of the overall drugs bill identified as potential savings it shows that the official advice is already being heeded.”
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