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Generic Drug Substitution

Volume 986: debated on Thursday 19 June 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list in the Official Report the steps his Department has taken to encourage doctors to be more economical in their prescribing and in particular to prescribe generic drugs rather than their more expensive branded equivalents.

Economical prescribing results from effective prescribing. I believe this can be achieved only when everyone—patient and doctor alike—adopts a more rational approach to the use of medicines generally.The Department's aim is to help doctors to be reliably informed about drugs and therapeutics and the effect of their own prescribing habits. It pursues the latter object through its regional medical service and increasingly, through their self-audit facility, for general practitioners who wish to study one month's detailed analysis of their prescribing. The steps we are taking to introduce computerised working in the prescription pricing authority should markedly improve the scope for providing prescribing information to general practitioners.The Department makes available to doctors free of charge information about drugs and therapeutics through such publications as

Preservers' Journal, Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, Adverse Reactions Bulletin and British National Formulary. The next edition of the BNF is expected to appear early next year in a completely revised format, and will include a much

wider range of drugs than previously and also an indication of relative prices. The Department also issues its own comparison charts which indicate the relative costs of alternative forms of treatment, both by generic name and brand name. Doctors are asked—and the Department is supported in this by the British Medical Association—to take account of relative costs when deciding the appropriate version of a drug.

I also refer the hon. Member to my reply on 16 June to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Aspinwall). [Vol. 986, c. 434–5.]