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12 September 2007
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The Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan has defended the nation’s policy of handing out free prescriptions amid claims GPs are abusing the system.
Reports have claimed some GPs are prescribing over-the-counter products such as Vaseline.
But Mr Morgan said there is “not that much evidence that that is actually occurring, but it makes a good story”.
And he added that the free prescriptions scheme, which was introduced in April, does not divert money from vital new medicines such as the breast cancer drug Herceptin.
He said: “The issue over Herceptin and other life-saving new, very, very expensive drugs is totally different and really, whether we have free prescriptions or only the categories getting free prescriptions like pensioners or people of all ages with diabetes, let us say, would still be there because the pharmaceutical industry is going to keep coming up with these wonderful life-saving drugs.
“I still think it (scrapping prescription charges) is the right thing to do.
“The thing is that it does mean that people must not exploit the system. It does mean there are always going to be these awkward issues.”
And speaking about his reforms to the health service in Wales, he said the Assembly government is “looking at the practicalities” of an opt-out system for organ donation, but added it has not taken a final decision.
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